CMN’s team of music writers is previewing the 2019 Grammy Awards. The 61st annual ceremony will take place Sunday, February 10 in Los Angeles. You can see all of our Grammy coverage here.
Cardi B: “Invasion of Privacy”– Featuring a gauntlet of trap bangers, Invasion of Privacy was a breakthrough album from the most unlikely of people. If “Bodak Yellow” was the track that started it all for Cardi, then the rapper’s debut album was affirmation of her superstardom. Invasion of Privacy was an outlet for Cardi to show that she can be an impactful voice for young women.
Mac Miller: “Swimming”– Mac Miller’s fifth and final studio album wasn’t just nominated because of the beloved rapper’s untimely death. Swimming obtained critical acclaim for its silky smooth production, and metaphorical, thoughtful lyricism. Miller wrestles with past demons (eerily, drug addiction and heartbreak), but also seems content with where he’s at as a musician, at least at face value. With help from Blood Orange, the content on Swimming is subtle, yet relatable. It’s unfortunate Mac isn’t here celebrating his accomplishment.
Nipsey Hussle: “Victory Lap”– It seems like every year, there’s a rap album that surprisingly makes a splash. Last year, it was Rhapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom, and this year it is Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap. The Los Angeles rapper succeeds in expressing Hollywood’s greatest attributes, specifically people’s will to prevail when chasing their dreams. Over West Coast-style trap drums, Hussle solidifies himself as a hard working motivator, who has finally found prosperity entering his early 30s.
Pusha T: “Daytona”– Pusha T talked a lot of shit for someone who took a three year hiatus from making original music (fighting with Drake was his main conflict). But he backed it up the bluster with arguably his best album to date in Daytona. With vintage production from none other than Kanye West, Every verse on the short, sweet project (only seven songs), is carefully curated. Pusha added a whole other dimension to the idea of coke rap, over soulful R&B samples.
Travis Scott: “Astroworld” – Very few records can live up to the hype that Astroworld ended up garnering. After being teased for about three years, Travis Scott finally decided to release his passion project. And boy, did it work out. Scott’s goal was to create a metaphorical version of the torn down Houston amusement park through psychedelic production and diverse vocal melodies. His rendition gained mainstream attention, as well as the rapper’s first album nomination at the Grammys.
Who Will Win:
Cardi B. The cultural and critical impact Cardi gathered after the release of this album far outweighs anyone else’s on this list, even if Astroworld or Daytona was arguably the better records.
Who Should Win:
Travis Scott. Scott was one of the few rap artists this year to find the difficult balance between mainstream and critical success (Kendrick is the only other one I can think of). He did that with his newest album, which is why it deserves to win.
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