Predicting The 2020 Hip-Hop And R&B Grammy Winners


Music’s biggest night is swiftly approaching and with the announcement of Grammy nominees comes vigorous debate around which albums or songs are most deserving of recognition. 2019 was loaded with unforgettable songs and albums that transported us from our cars, treadmills and living rooms into the studio. These songs were the soundtrack of our lives for the past year. New artists burst onto the scene and grabbed our attention while wily veterans proved again why they remain on music’s pedestal. With that said, we’ll take a stab at foreseeing winners in the Hip-Hop and R&B categories.

Let us know what your predictions are in the comments. 

Best Rap Performance

For Rap performance. Singles or Tracks only.

    Dreamville Featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG & Young Nudy
    Nipsey Hussle Featuring Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy
    Offset Featuring Cardi B
  • SUGE

Who should win: Suge – DaBaby

“Suge” was the breakthrough single that propelled DaBaby into music’s mainstream. The song appears on his well-received debut album Baby on Baby. The title obviously references infamous music executive Suge Knight – a proclamation of the artist’s intention to forcefully overtake hip-hop, something Knight became legendary for. DaBaby’s exuberant personality and brazen confidence shine through on this record. To pair with his compelling voice, DaBaby also presents some cunning penmanship with creative ad-libs putting the icing on the proverbial cake. The record was blasted everywhere to the tune of a number one spot atop Billboard’s Hip-Hop AirPlay charts.

Who will win: Middle Child – J Cole

Equally deserving in its own right Middle Child is J Cole executing on the fundamentals which built his rap persona. Cole uses a number of effective analogies to explore his place in the music industry as an ambassador for this era whose greatness transcends that of many “peers.”

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Best Rap/Sung Performance

For a solo or collaborative performance containing both elements of R&B melodies and Rap.

    Mustard Featuring Roddy Ricch

    DJ Khaled Featuring Nipsey Hussle & John Legend

    Lil Baby & Gunna

    Lil Nas X
    Young Thug Featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott

Who should win: Ballin – Mustard featuring Roddy Ricch

“I put the new forgis on the Jeep!” We found ourselves uncontrollably singing the hook to feel-good anthem “Ballin” all year. The infectious DJ Mustard-produced track rang out through radios, arena speakers and car systems everywhere. You couldn’t escape its brilliance in 2019. The song diaries the rags to riches story of featured artist, Roddy Ricch and his ascent to success. The come up, one of hip-hop’s core motifs. It was released as a single from Mustard’s third studio album Perfect Ten. Mustard provides the ideal instrumental for Roddy to narrate his trouble to triumph fable. The marriage of Roddy’s unique voice and Mustard’s body-rocking beat is pure alchemy. 

Who will win: Higher – DJ Khaled featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend. 

Hard to imagine a scenario where the fallen legendary figure Nipsey Hussle leaves without a triumphant moment. The creme of Khaled’s “Father of Asad,” Higher ignites your soul and your mind combining the Nispey’s message with John Legend’s refined and flowing vocals. This is sure to be a heavy, reflective and tear-jerking moment at the awards.

Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

Best Rap Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

    Chancelor Bennett, Cordae Dunston, Uforo Ebong & Daniel Hackett, songwriters (YBN Cordae Featuring Chance The Rapper)

    Noel Cadastre, Aubrey Graham, Anderson Hernandez, Khristopher Riddick-Tynes, William Leonard Roberts II, Joshua Quinton Scruggs, Leon Thomas III & Ozan Yildirim, songwriters (Rick Ross Featuring Drake)
    Ermias Asghedom, Dustin James Corbett, Greg Allen Davis, Chauncey Hollis, Jr. & Rodrick Moore, songwriters (Nipsey Hussle Featuring Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy)

  • SUGE
    DaBaby, Jetsonmade & Pooh Beatz, songwriters (DaBaby)

  • A LOT
    Jermaine Cole, Dacoury Natche, 21 Savage & Anthony White, songwriters (21 Savage Featuring J. Cole)

Who should win: A lot – 21 Savage featuring J Cole

Who will win: A lot – 21 Savage featuring J Cole

This is maybe the biggest no brainer of the evening. The rhythmic masterpiece of a beat featuring an incredible sample from “I Love You” by East of Underground which also samples “I Love You for All Seasons,” performed by The Fuzz is a thing of sheer dexterity. On the track J. Cole delivers critical bars addressing dubiousness of music industry inauthenticity and affirms his place in hip-hop, while 21 Savage chronicles his trials on the way to the top. The juxtaposition of rap’s adjacent regimes melts perfectly into a song that makes you want to party as much as you want to think.  

 Moses Robinson/Getty Images

Best Rap Album

For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new rap recordings.

    Meek Mill
  • I AM > I WAS
    21 Savage

  • IGOR
    Tyler, The Creator

    YBN Cordae

Who should win: IGOR – Tyler the Creator

Many, including myself were livid when nominations came out and IGOR was not included in the Album of the Year category. It was hands down the most complete body of work I have heard this year. Yet, in the confines of this designation when standing toe to toe against the likes of Championship it pains me to say Tyler will lose out of what could be his second Rap album of the year award. Flower Boy was also incredible. But Tyler is due for a Grammy so look for the academy to perhaps reward him next year.

Who will win: Championships – Meek Mill

While Championships does not have the consistency of I am > I was, the sonic delivery of IGOR or the deeply introspective approach of Lost Boys,  for a rap album it’s highs are unbelievably high and subject matter all parts profound, frivolous and entertaining. Meek’s lyrics on tracks like “Oodles and Noodles” or “Respect the Game” reach into your soul, gripping your heart with the story of his tribulations wrapped in the context of socio-economic complexities in urban America. It is a dissertation of continuous resurrection through the eyes of a dreamer. In the end, the combination of musical range, lyrical content, and hard-hitting storytelling sets Championships apart as a rap album. Although IGOR is perhaps the most comprehensive and impressive body of work from the list of nominees, it is also miscast and should be considered for the album of the year. In my opinion, considering the rap designation, Championships takes the crown this year by a slim margin.   

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Best R&B Performance

For new vocal or instrumental R&B recordings.

    Daniel Caesar & Brandy
    H.E.R. Featuring Bryson Tiller
    Lizzo Featuring Gucci Mane
    Lucky Daye
    Anderson .Paak Featuring André 3000

Who should win: Love Again – Daniel Caesar featuring Brandy

Who will win: Love Again – Daniel Caesar featuring Brandy 

Undeniably deserving albeit by a thin margin – Love Again is the right choice. “Love Again” is a duet featured on Case Study 01, Daniel Caesar’s second studio album. The track conjoins Brandy’s signature breathy vocals with Caesar’s stirring and powerful soulfulness. The abutment of the singers’ variant styles works to give the song a pleasant musical affliction. The impressive performance by Brandy and Caesar yokes the raw youth of Caesar with the experience and polish of Brady. Although Caesar headlines here, the piece is a great reminder of Brandy’s incredible R&B legacy.    

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images 

Best Traditional R&B Performance

For new vocal or instrumental traditional R&B recordings.

    BJ The Chicago Kid
    Lucky Daye
    PJ Morton Featuring Jazmine Sullivan

Who should win: Time Today – BJ The Chicago Kid

Somehow BJ is STILL underrated, undeterred by this, the vocalist continues to producer outstanding songs like “Time Today.” Labeled as the “deacon of R&B” by some, BJ delivers his spellbinding belts on the song filled with a ton of powerful canticles from a love maker. The deacon is single-handedly restoring our faith in R&B with his mastership of soul. Not to go unmentioned is the near flawless production which provides a smooth surface for BJ’s voice to skate on. Still, is it wishful thinking for him to win? Will it inevitably go to Lizzo, or does BJ stand a real chance?

Who will win: Jerome – Lizzo

Lizzo is taking home multiple Grammys come hell or high water. The academy will reward the “entertainer of the year,” more factors at play here than simply her music (while this song is fantastic and deserving).

 Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Best R&B Song

A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

    Dernst Emile II, David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris, H.E.R. & Hue “Soundzfire” Strother, songwriters (H.E.R. Featuring Bryson Tiller)
    Emily King & Jeremy Most, songwriters (Emily King)
    Chris Brown, Tyler James Bryant, Nija Charles, Aubrey Graham, Anderson Hernandez, Michee Patrick Lebrun, Joshua Huizar, Noah Shebib & Teddy Walton, songwriters (Chris Brown Featuring Drake)
    David Brown, Dernst Emile II & Peter Lee Johnson, songwriters (Lucky Daye)
  • SAY SO
    PJ Morton, songwriter (PJ Morton Featuring JoJo)

Who should win: Roll Some Mo – Lucky Daye

Who will win: No Guidance – Chris Brown featuring Drake

The best song on the best R&B is what I would go with but Chris Brown and Drake won’t be denied here. Once reportedly at each other’s necks over Rihanna, Chris Brown and Drake have since mended any quarrels and joined to give us the year’s best R&B song. The collaboration is truly mesmerizing and enthralls all who come under its waves. While not quite the vocalist Chris Brown is, Drake nevertheless ministers a tremendous tight-rope performance somewhere between rapper and singer. Both artists combine, with producers J-Louis,Vinylz, Teddy Walton, and 40, to give an addicting composition. 

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Best Urban Contemporary Album

For albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded contemporary vocal tracks derivative of R&B.

    Steve Lacy
    Georgia Anne Muldrow
    Jessie Reyez

Who should win: Cuz I Love You – Lizzo

Who will win: Cuz I Love You – Lizzo

It’s Lizzo’s year. Plain and simple. Overruling the deeply competitive nature of this category and legitimate questioning of her placement, here are the vocal acrobatics Lizzo delivers on Cuz I Love You. Her colossal, sometimes theatrical voice grabs and twists your ear from the outset – running your head across each piano stroke and lyric to drive home the song’s theme of lost love. The score sounds like the predicament of a heartbroken animated film’s villain plotting her revenge in the most dramatic fashion imaginable. Grand runs and notes grab you by your shoulders, swinging you from side to side with the beat. Range and versatility keep Lizzo’s star rising. 

Best R&B Album

For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new R&B recordings.

  • 1123
    BJ The Chicago Kid
    Lucky Daye
    Ella Mai
  • PAUL
    PJ Morton
    Anderson .Paak

Who should win: Painted – Lucky Daye

Maybe the toughest choice of all. Best R&B album. Back and forth I went before championing a victor. You could very well settle on Ella Mai and her commercial smash, self titled album. Or BJ the Chicago Kid with his soulful and touching numbers set to marvelous instrumentals in 1123. Even the density of Anderson. Paak’s VENTURE. When the dust fades the winner should and will be Painted. The debut album by Lucky Daye, led by the single “Roll Some Mo” is the most exemplary comprehensive body which also provides moments of brilliance.  

Who will win: Ventura – Anderson. Paak

Anderson has paid his dues, being passed up for other nominations and awards he probably deserved. It’s his time.

Bennett Raglin/Getty Images 

With a field this stacked the night is sure to produce loads of drama as names are called and dreams are shattered or realized. To go along with the suspense we are due for some great performances from the likes of Tyler the Creator, Lizzo and Roddy Rich to name a few. 

Ceremony date: January 26, 2020, 8:00 PM EST


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.