"Wayne might have the easiest victory throughout the entire Grammys," XXL magazine's Bonsu Thompson told MTV News last week. "Whether it's in the recording booth or onstage, there's no competition. He sold a million copies in one week."
He's nominated in seven hip-hop categories overall, including Best Rap Song, Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. "It's a sure thing he'll take all the rap awards he's nominated for this year," Entertainment Weekly music critic Leah Greenblatt said.
But the New Orleans lyricist's eighth nomination is the most impressive: Album of the Year. Lauryn Hill and Outkast are the only hip-hop artists to take home the Album of the Year trophy at past Grammy ceremonies. Wayne will be going up against critical darlings like Coldplay and Radiohead, but some of the producers who worked on Tha Carter III think Wayne has as good a shot at winning as any other artist.
"Anyone that can get nominated for eight Grammys is absolutely amazing," StreetRunner, who produced "Playin' With Fire," told MTV News on Wednesday. "Especially to do it as a rapper. He's blessed. I hope he takes all of them. 'Cause anyone that works as hard as he does deserves to get rewarded.
"I don't care if he's going against the biggest pop act in the world or the biggest rock act in the world, because he deserves to be there right with them at the end of the day," the producer continued. "He managed to sell a million records in one week. If that many people wanna buy your album in a week, you did something right, you did something important. And I'm pretty sure in that Album of the Year category, no one else did that. So that's what it is. Numbers don't lie."
Other Carter III contributors said they were honored to have their work nominated for a Grammy, but they expected it because of the rapper's immense talent.
"There were rumors floating around that he would be nominated for Album of the Year, and I kind of expected it," said Infamous, who produced the Jay-Z-assisted "Mr. Carter." "It wasn't your average hip-hop album, where you just make a bunch of smash records. He touched on a lot of things. There's some artistic songs. It's not just a Southern record; it's a record that fans in New York could listen to. To me, that's what a hip-hop record is, but it's bigger because of everything he's talking about."
Ultimately, though, whether Wayne wins Best Rap Album or Album of the Year — or both — the buzz surrounding the project might matter more than a Grammy. Drew Correa, who produced songs with Infamous, said Wayne records so much music that the nervousness of waiting for his final track list to be confirmed far outweighs what he imagines it will be like waiting for presenters to open envelopes at the Grammy Awards.
"The anticipation for the release for Tha Carter III was a lot crazier than finding out about the Grammys," Correa said. "Even though winning a Grammy would be a dream come true. [Laughs.] I'm still gonna be pulling my hair at the awards, though. I'm not gonna lie."
"Anyone who made Tha Carter III, it was literally like 16 lottery winners," StreetRunner said. "Because there were hundreds of records that could have made it."
Will Lil Wayne grab all the gramophones? Is Katy Perry going to tell her girl rivals to kiss off? Can Coldplay march off with a win? MTV News is all over the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, so stay tuned for interviews, analysis and more before, during and after the big night, Sunday, February 8.