Ideally, the Grammy award for Best Rap Album would be a coronation for the artist whose project captured the hip-hop public’s attention more than any other. Unfortunately, though, the Grammys are as likely to blow it by picking Macklemore over Kendrick Lamar as they are to reward greatness. So much of the drama and tension surrounding the award showcase isn’t about which rappers win awards as much as it is bemoaning who didn’t.
It makes sense that Drake boycotts the ceremony and J. Cole has given it the four-letter salute, but the hip-hop community still pays attention to the Grammys because they know how momentous it can be when the committee makes the right selections. For instance, when Lil Wayne took home four awards for Tha Carter III in 2009, including Best Rap Album, they got it right in grand fashion. It’s one of the few times that the committee managed to contribute to a classic hip-hop moment by awarding the right artist.
For most of the aughts, Lil Wayne had been steadily packing bar on top of bar on his quest to embody his self-fulfilling prophecy of being The Best Rapper Alive, and 2008 was inarguably his coming out party. His Carter III studio album sold a million records in a week, “A Milli” joined the pantheon of classic rap singles, and even Jay-Z ceded the figurative throne to him by calling him “my heir” on “Mr. Carter.” By awarding him for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Solo Performance, as well as Best Rap Performance By A Duo or group for “Swagga Like Us,” the Grammys made sure his iconic 2008 would be documented in their annals.