2012 Grammys, Best Rap Album: 'Watch The Throne' vs Young Money


(2012 Grammy Nominees)

By Rob Markman

The hip-hop community has had plenty of issues with the Recording Academy but rap artists still hold plenty of weight at the annual awards show. Eminem dominated in 2011, and this time around 2012 Kanye West racked up 7 Grammy nominations. Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne are also in the running, but Yeezy's seven nods take the cake.

Two of West's nominations come in the hotly contested Best Rap Album category; one for his solo My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the other for his and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne tag-team LP.

Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV, Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday and Lupe Fiasco's Lasers round out the category, and while the odds are clearly in the Louis Vuitton Don's favor, he isn't exactly a lock.

If record sales are any indication, it will be tough to ignore the first-week sales of Wayne's Carter IV. The approximate 960,000 units Weezy sold in his first week didn't earn him a platinum plaque right out of the gate, but it stood as one of the biggest hip-hop stories of 2011. CIV has since been certified double platinum by the RIAA, and though some critics panned it, high-powered singles like "6 Foot 7 Foot," "She Will" and "John" helped cement Wayne's ninth solo album as a fan-favorite.

Just like her Young Money boss, Nicki Minaj reigned throughout the year thanks to Pink Friday. Released at the end of 2010 and anchored by the infectious and inescapable bonus track "Super Bass," Nicki's debut LP helped her to penetrate the pop space while still keeping a foot firmly planted in the streets with her "Did It On 'Em" single.

Lupe Fiasco may be the dark horse of the group but considering the Recording Academy's knack for acknowledging hip-hop with a message, don't be surprised if the Chicago MC takes home the golden gramophone. Lasers was a commercial success thanks to its radio-friendly sound, but it didn't sit well with some die-hard fans because it was a departure from Fiasco's earlier work. Regardless of the LP's sound bed, Lupe's message remained potent. His criticism of President Obama on "Words I Never Said" was polarizing and opened up much political debate.

Kanye's MBDTF was highly touted when it dropped in November 2010, but was seemingly eclipsed by the meteoric Watch the Throne collaboration with Jay-Z. Discussing MBDTF's Album of the Year snub, Yeezy blamed himself, saying that he should have spaced his releases out "just a little bit more." But in the Best Rap Album category, his maddening pace only increases his chances.

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