My 2022 Rap Grammy Winners
The selections for the 4 various rap categories
So the 2022 Grammy nominations are out. Usually, I don’t get excited about the nominations, but I rushed to see the nominations for this year. With how much more in tune, I am with music, particularly the rap genre, I needed to know the nominations immediately.
And I’m sure by now you probably have seen other people’s reactions and who they hope will win each category. So I just want to discuss and reflect on my own enjoyments of the songs and albums listed and give my own winners.
Much of these nominations come as no surprise to me. There have been countless albums and, of course, songs that have dropped throughout this year that were terrific. Plus, still being a pandemic year, there was going to be a lot of music released.
I’m sure none of us will complain because a lot of our favorite artists delivered.
Yet with some of these nominations, I know that some fans will be disappointed because not every artist, album, or song can be added to these nominations.
Unfortunately, there has to be a winner, and that just needs to be narrowed down to one rather than multiple.
Anyways, I want to discuss these four categories as they were the most I was interested in.
Best Rap Performance
I’m not sure how you necessarily would define performance in this scenario. Is it purely based on the track? Or is it based on live performances of the song? Maybe it’s the music video. The fact is, I’m not really sure.
I don’t necessarily think it could be the music video because, well, I don’t believe there’s an official music video released for “m y . l i f e,” meaning it would have to be excluded from this list.
And then again, maybe it is based on the live performance, which is possible. But the way I’m going to take this as is it’s based on the artist’s performance or artists on this track itself.
Here are the nominations:
Baby Keem, Kendrick Lamar — “Family Ties”
Cardi B — “Up”
J. Cole, 21 Savage & Murray — “m y . l i f e”
Drake, Future, Young Thug — “Way 2 Sexy”
Megan Thee Stallion — “Thot Shit”
I’m just going to get a few comments of the way here. I wasn’t a big fan of up. The beat is good, but I find the chorus to be very repetitive.
As for “Thot Shit,” I’m just not a fan of the track itself, and therefore I’m going to leave it out.
I’ll discuss Cerified Lover Boy in a few moments, but as for “Way 2 Sexy,” I found this an amusing track on the project. And that’s likely you either love it, or you don’t, and I’m not the biggest fan of this either. So it’s not going to be among my placement.
So then you have “Family Ties” and “m y . l i f e” which are a bit difficult for me to crown a winner for this category.
I really enjoyed “m y . l i f e” this year, and in fact, it’s been one of my favorite songs of the entire year. With the track itself, I really enjoy the intensity that J. Cole brings into fostering the track and really laying out its theme.
When I heard the song as well, I was very surprised by the amount of lyricism that 21 Savage provided, and I think this is one of his best performances I’ve heard on any track, whether it be a feature or his own.
Then you had Morray, who, to me, just tied everything together with his soul. He really does have a beautiful sound on this track and could be at least one of the best parts of it, if not the best part.
And all of these performances on the song just meshed so well together that it is still worthy of a playthrough.
I know, like most people, I’ve been waiting to hear some new Kendrick Lamar music, whether it be a single or a feature or an album. And really, Kendrick brought a lot whether he switched up his flows which or providing elite lyricism that makes him one of the best in the game today.
I also enjoyed the horn/trumpet instrumental initially, with Baby Keem starting out the track. In fact, I really enjoyed the switch of the beats throughout this. It almost felt like a movie, and I know the music video seems that way too. Which I certainly applaud the songwriters and a production crew doing for this track.
Yet, I just think that the combination of the three artists in “m y . l i f e” was just a bit better. Even the sampling was good, and of course, the production itself was excellent as well.
I enjoyed this track a little bit more than I did then “Family Ties” from Baby Keem and thought the performances were a little bit better, although they were excellent for “Family Ties.”
Best Melodic Rap Performance
J. Cole Featuring Lil Baby — “p r i d e . i s . t h e . d e v i l”
Doja Cat — “Need to Know”
Lil Nas X Featuring Jack Harlow — “Industry Baby”
Tyler, the Creator Featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Ty Dolla $ign — “WusYaName”
Kanye West Featuring The Weekend & Lil Baby — “Hurricane”
Again I want to make this short with a few comments. I wasn’t a big fan of Doja Cat’s song here. I’m might consider this to be a bit more of an R&P tune, but I’ll let everyone pick that for themselves.
I wasn’t typically blown away with this J. Cole track, and if we’re talking about melodic performance, then I would say “m y . l i f e” with Morray was better than this track.
Actually, “Industry Baby” is a pretty good song and both of the artists did an outstanding job. What really stands up to me, though, from that song is the instrumental and how great the horns are throughout the entire track. I don’t think it’s better than any of the following two I’m about to talk about.
This is also another tough category because the NBA youngboy surprised me and worked very well with Ty Dolla $ign and Tyler, The Creator.
Then, of course, you have The Weeknd and how angelic he sounds on a track with Kanye and Lil Baby. So it’s challenging for me to choose one over the other, and I don’t want to pick it based on which track was better overall. Again I want to focus on the melodic performance here.
Even Ty Dolla Sign in the background was very good with his vocals. But if I’m picking performance, I might give a slight edge of my preference to The Weeknd. It’s just gratifying how his voice is isolated and how he does change the range at times. I find that his voice can really match the rest of the production, and I think because of that, I’ll give the nod to “Hurricane.”
I’m sure this is one where I may change my mind when I go back to this category or ask the question, but for now, I will choose “Hurricane” so we can move on.
Best Rap Song
DMX Featuring Jay-Z & Nas — “Bath Salts”
Saweetie Featuring Doja Cat — “Best Friend”
Baby Keem Featuring Kendrick Lamar — “Family Ties”
Kanye West Featuring Jay-Z — “Jail”
J. Cole Featuring 21 Savage & Murray — “m y . l i f e”
Not a big fan of “Best Friends” here. I think that all the other songs are much better. If you’ve enjoyed this song more than I have the others, that’s great.
I mean, Jay-Z probably gave one of the best features of the year on “Jail.” I found his lyricism. elite. The subtle nod to Donda there with that one line was terrific. It’s honestly a line I look to hear every time I listen to the song.
We know what “Family Ties” is and how good of a song that is in itself. Again Kendrick reminds us how great of an artist he is and how he can switch things up from course as we’ve come to know album to album.
I’ve already spoken about the enjoyment of “m y . l i f e” and how everyone brought their own style to the track, and Morray laid a beautiful foundation with his vocals.
Yet, I also did really enjoy “Bath Salts.” I mean, for one, I love the intensity that each of these three artists brought to the track. When you think of a track that features the likes of Jay-Z, Nas, and DMX, you typically would think of intensity and probably lyricism, and rightfully so.
If I ever heard of a track that features just one of these artists, I would expect those characteristics from them. Plus, when you think about it, this is the second track we’ve gotten that features a Jay-Z and Nas, which is legendary in itself.
And while you know they’re not really going at each other’s throats lyrically, they still perform very well. I would say the most intense artist here was DMX, and that is not shocking. For DMX to bring both of these legends together is also beautiful. And to me, it was one of the highlights of Exodus.
Exodus: What Could be the Last Album from DMX
This album brings some edge and emotion along with its backlash.
But this is where I’m also torn because of my enjoyment with most of these tracks.
Unfortunately, I’m going to have to knock some off. While “Family Ties” was ery good, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I have with the other three tracks, so I think I will knock that off the bridge.
“Jail” was very good, but the best part about that to me was Jay-Z’s track. I wasn’t necessarily feeling Kanye’s more melodic verses on here, and the instrumental was good, but it wasn’t necessarily over the top to me. So I think for those reasons, I’m also willing to knock this one-off.
It comes down to which songs that I enjoy the most. And if I’m being sincere, something within me is telling me to select “Bath Salts.” I know that one of the reasons is because Jay-Z, Nas, and DMX are on the same track, and I would never have believed we’d get a track just like this.
Even I’m surprised by myself to select “Bath Salts.” I just enjoyed everything that was brought to it. The artists and, of course, their characteristics no doubt contribute to an excellent track and one of my favorites of the year, and while it may not be my favorite here which I hope to get to in a discussion at the end of the year, it is going to be the one I will answer for now, but likely will change later.
Best Rap Album
J. Cole — The Off-Season
Drake — Certified Lover Boy
Nas — King’s Disease II
Tyler, the Creator — Call Me If You Get Lost
Kanye West — Donda
Now we get to a discussion that I think is relatively easy. At least easier than me deciding between the last three categories.
The Off-Season was good and probably my favorite J. Cole album, but it felt short, and it felt like more of a mixtape to me. Like another project is supposed to come, and this is just the lead-up to that. It didn’t feel like a complete project.
Certified Lover Boy may be my least favorite, but I found the production across this entire project excellent.. There are songs like “Get Along Better” and “The Remorse” where I can appreciate Drake opening up about himself and his feelings, which not every artist does.
I think, in fact, it’s one of the beauties of Certified Lover Boy. We’re learning more about ourselves at who we are and the direction we are taking, and where we want to go.
Yet it just wasn’t my favorite album, and I found I didn’t really like most of the tracks. Again, there were a couple, and well, the introspectiveness of this album is something I really admire. I don’t think it’s better than any of the others here.
I’m not the most prominent Tyler, The Creator fan and wasn’t a big fan of Igor myself as it just really isn’t my type of rap. I really enjoyed his latest project. In fact, I thought the production was good, the features were also very, very good, and I could see this winning another Grammy for sure.
But I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did with the other two albums here, as again it isn’t my type of music, but I love the storytelling that he provided, and some of the features like NBA Youngboy really surprised me.
Donna was a very well-produced album. I think a lot of people will agree with me when I say that. There were notable tracks on tracks across this project that I still listen to regularly and find very beautiful. As I mentioned above “Hurricane” was one of them.
I just didn’t really enjoy some of the other tracks, like “Off The Grid,” which was very popular among other people. But that’s just it. This is all subjective in all of our music tastes are going to differ.
The outstanding performances on this project, including “Life Of The Party,” which is probably my favorite track on the deluxe version, make this one of the best albums of the year. Yet while it is feature-heavy, that is a disadvantage. I like when Kanye can put artists on a track and really make them stand out. Sometimes, we just want to track personal reflection of the self.
And like I said, I didn’t enjoy all the performances or the tracks across here, and to be honest, I thought one album was better than all these.
That album was King’s Disease II. I was a little critical of the first King’s Disease, but it was still a good album. Do I think that the album should have won the Grammy then? Well, that’s not for me to decide and I’m happy they did.
This year I really want Nas and Hit-Boy to win this Grammy. This latest album has been better than the first one. This one feels more relaxed in the sense that you’re not trying to keep up with a particular sound across the mainstream. We are able to focus more on Nas than the other features.
Hit--Boy does another spectacular job at the production and especially with the sampling. I love the soul and jazz samplings across these tracks, and it feels a little quieter. I can hear Nas stand out across these tracks rather than getting completely lost amongst the production.
As well some of the features on here were really good. My favorite track on the album is “EPMD 2" which features Eminem and, of course, the group EPMD. But even with Charlie Wilson on “No Phony Love,” I get mesmerized in the song itself.
In fact, I find myself getting mesmerized by the other songs themselves. And I really have to appreciate how introspective Nas is on tracks like “Death Row East” and “Moments.”
Indeed, this album is just gorgeous, and while I don’t enjoy all the tracks on here, I can say this is the album I’ve enjoyed the most throughout the year. Which, to me, is the best album of 2021.
So what do you think about these nominations? Do you have a different opinion on any of the categories that I did? Please let me know within the comment section.
I hope to do a year in review to discuss some of my favorite songs and my favorite albums that I’ve listened to throughout the year.
In the meantime, you can check out some of my previous reviews through the links through the article.