Captain Obvious statement coming in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Dating back to the days of Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff or when Public Enemy posed the question on “Terminator X to the Edge of Panic,” “Who gives a fuck about a g*ddam Grammy?” Hip-Hop and “music’s biggest night” have never had the most kosher of relationships.
This year, the genre’s most anticipated awards were handed out before the telecast. And, putting it lightly, there’s the overwhelming sentiment regarding the lack of connection or desire to tap into the true pulse of the music – despite some of the most memorable performances in recent years centering around rap’s heavyweights. Such constitutes as the reason why talents like Killer Mike, Sean Price, Big K.R.I.T. or Freddie Gibbs may never be nominated for a Grammy, which by no means, is a moratorium on an artist’s career (despite Mike already winning one for for OutKast’s “The Whole World”).*
Here’s the paradoxical twist. For MC’s who are nominated, the desire to walk home with a Grammy is borderline obsessive. Aside from obvious financial implications resulting from the distinction, the competitive edge in a psycho-competitive genre are bragging rights that speak for themselves. This ignites the conversation to the 2014 Best Rap album, specifically two of the category’s expected nominees.
Marinate on this. Since 2008, only three “new” Hip-Hop artists have gone platinum. And by “new,” the qualifications are under the age of 30 and dropping their first label-backed album. That’s Nicki Minaj, Drake and Kendrick. That’s it and that’s all.
From the moment So Far Gone dubbed the Toronto transplant rap’s next superstar, Drake’s reign atop the newer generation of MC’s has gone essentially unchallenged. Names like Wale, Big Sean, KiD CuDi, Wiz Khalifa and J. Cole carved their own niche amongst the masses with their respective projects and influence. None, however, have come within arms reach of Cash Money’s smartest signing since keeping Lil Wayne away from Jay-Z seven years earlier. And with taunts in the vein of “Most #1’s ever how long did it really take me…” the only true competition Drake encountered is…well…Drake.
Enter good kid, m.a.a.d city.
Where Thank Me Later and Take Care produced a plethora of stadium-worthy mainstays and graphically introspective numbers, Kendrick’s debut manifested its own audio fingerprint. GKMC captured the forecast of a time period in the form of a concept album. It thrived in describing the hopes, dreams, pitfalls and peer pressures of matriculating in a generation hellbent on appeasing an image of manhood and success based largely around perception. And the LP spawned Kendrick from simply a talented lyricist, to a believable champion. Conceptually and reaction-wise, Hip-Hop has failed to produce a better EP, mixtape or album since GKMC was born on October 22, 2012.