Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp A Butterfly was a massive success both critically and commercially. The Grammys recognized Lamar’s world-beating year by giving him the most nods out of any artist this year (11), including the big one, Album of the Year. But is TPAB a lock to win the Grammys’ most important award?
Let’s take a look at the evidence:
– Metacritic, which compiles review scores to provide a representation of critical consensus, gives it a score of 96. That makes To Pimp A Butterfly the fourth highest-rated album of all-time.
– TPAB tackles a host of American issues that have been at the forefront of political discussions throughout 2015, making it the most relevant album to be nominated.
– The Grammys passed over Kendrick’s last album in favor of Macklemore’s The Heist. Many people, including Macklemore, were critical of the decision, and the Grammys absolutely love giving out make-up awards. Just ask Beck.
All that being said, To Pimp A Butterfly is absolutely not a shoo-in for the Album of the Year Grammy. For one, Kendrick’s facing steep competition from artists who produce music that’s catnip to Grammy voters in Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color and Chris Stapleton’s Traveller. Pop music smashes by Taylor Swift and The Weeknd could also derail Lamar’s chances.
History isn’t on Lamar’s side, either. A rap album has only won Album of the Year twice in the history of the Grammys, and one of those (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill) could just as easily be described as a singer-songwriter album.
Even with all that, the biggest obstacle to Lamar going home with Album of the Year might be Kendrick himself. To Pimp A Butterfly was also nominated for Best Rap Album. Given that that’s the exact award many people believe he was shorted in 2014, the Grammy voters might feel like Best Rap Album is enough for TPAB, freeing them to pick something else as the best overall album of 2015.
What do you think? Will Kendrick Lamar go home with this year’s top prize?