A Raptastic 2011

A Raptastic 2011

(For a complete list of 54th GRAMMY Awards nominees, click here.)

Rap music has long been a movement of cultural expression that has gained momentum over the years. As those years turn into decades and pioneers become forefathers, rap transcends age, gender, socioeconomic status, and even our own mental boundaries of what a genre should reflect. This unique blend of enthusiasm, hunger and innovation caused rap to reach a new zenith of creativity in 2011.

We witnessed the musical ascendance of Kanye West and were rewarded with the lyrical consistencies of Busta Rhymes and Lupe Fiasco. These veterans took rap to new heights in 2011, alongside a new breed of rappers including Wiz Khalifa and Nicki Minaj.

Each year rap fans look for that new anthem to shout in the club and bump in their cars. In 2011 that craving was satisfied with Wiz Khalifa's GRAMMY-nominated single, "Black And Yellow," which riled up rap and sports fans alike. "All Of The Lights" emerged as a 2011 club favorite as West teamed with Rihanna, Kid Cudi and Fergie to deliver an infectious, horn-tooting frenzy of beats and rhymes.

One of rap's strongest partnerships got even stronger in 2011 when Jay-Z and West dropped Watch The Throne, which earned the duo a nomination for Best Rap Album as well as Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song for "Otis." We also witnessed the ongoing evolution of rap's conscious revolutionary, Lupe Fiasco, whose Lasers LP is also up for Best Rap Album.

It was definitely Minaj's time to shine in 2011. In addition to Best New Artist, rap's darling is competing for the Best Rap Album GRAMMY with Pink Friday as well as Best Rap Performance for her duet with Drake, "Moment 4 Life." Speaking of duets, we can't ignore the presence of André 3000 and Beyoncé for the GRAMMY-nominated single, "Party."

If I had to describe rap in 2011 in one word, it would be "powerful." The heat generated from all corners of the rap world set the music industry on fire. Both seasoned and new, conscious and carefree, men and women, and eccentric and classic contributors gave us a wondrously pure, unadulterated representation of life in the 21st century.

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