(l-r) Childish Gambino, Kehlani, PJ Morton, 6lack, Ledisi, Daniel Caesar
2018 GRAMMYs: 7 Things To Know About The R&B Field Nominees
The 60th GRAMMY Award nominations are marked by a surge of R&B in the major categories, with no less than two artists up for Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year and Best New Artist.
This may not come as a surprise to the astute music fan, considering the elements of R&B formed the genesis of so many other musical genres including hip-hop, rock and roll, and modern pop.
Covering both traditional and contemporary sounds and styles, today's R&B Field recognizes artists and recordings in five categories: Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best R&B Song, Best Urban Contemporary Album, and Best R&B Album.
This year's class of nominees proudly represent the many varieties of R&B. Led by Childish Gambino, Ledisi and Bruno Mars with three nominations each, the R&B Field for the 60th GRAMMY Awards contains some of music's groundbreaking artists.
Dig into this year's R&B Field with these seven factual nuggets about the nominees.
1. Caesar's Arrival
But the Canadian singer is no overnight success. Caesar released multiple popular EPs and singles before arriving with his full-length debut, proving that behind all great accomplishments lies an ample amount of hard work.
In 2014, Rolling Stone praised Caesar's 2014 EP, Praise Break, saying he "quavers, croons and grabs samples (Jeff Buckley, Pink Floyd, Casablanca dialogue), to evoke the coming-of-age clouding his head," adding that, "we're witnessing the dawn of an abiding talent."
Three years and two GRAMMY nominations later, the Toronto phenom seems ready to step into his rightful spot on the shortlist of today's top R&B artists.
2. Veterans Get Their Due Recognition
All three have been nominated in the past, but only Hamilton has taken home GRAMMY gold so far. This year the North Carolina native goes for his second career win in the Best Traditional R&B Performance category with a nomination for "What I'm Feelin'" featuring the Hamiltones.
Ledisi has two chances to score her first GRAMMY win: She's up for Best R&B Performance for "High" and for Best Traditional R&B Performance for "All The Way."
Musiq Soulchild earned a nod for Best R&B Album for Feel The Real, his sprawling 100-minute, 24-song double album that features contributions from the likes of Floetry's Marsha Ambrosius and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Eight studio albums and nearly two decades into his career, the Philly-born singer is still upping his game, as this album and nomination clearly show.
3. Childish Gambino "Awakens" A New Sound
Described by most as an actor/rapper since his first musical release back in 2011, Camp, Donald Glover — aka Childish Gambino — finds himself firmly planted in the R&B Field this time around.
His electrifying, falsetto-heavy 2016 album, "Awaken, My Love!," is up for Best Urban Contemporary Album and his hit single "Redbone" is in the running for Best R&B Song and Best Traditional R&B Performance, a reflection of the successful stylistic pivot his music has made.
"I like things that you're not expecting," Glover told Triple J Radio about his intentions in writing the album. "We play with pictures and sounds that affect people in ways they don't realize are happening until the fifth listen."
4. PJ Morton Wears Many Hats
You might know his name from his GRAMMY-nominated song "Only One" featuring Stevie Wonder or from his role as keyboardist for pop/rock superstars Maroon 5, but PJ Morton has been a versatile member of R&B, rock and gospel music communities since the early 2000s.
On his fourth solo album, Gumbo, which is up for Best R&B Album, Morton steps back up to the front of the stage and revisit his New Orleans roots. His elegant album opener, "First Began," is up for Best R&B Song, an exposition of Morton's influences and a testament to his writing and vocal chops.
"I wanted to say what I wanted to say and I thought that I didn't really want to have a corporation behind it this time," Morton told GRAMMY.com about the self-released Gumbo. "I've done that before, my previous solo record, and I just felt like I was clear on the vision on what I wanted this to be and felt like I could do it."
5. Introducing 6LACK
Atlanta's Ricardo Valentine — aka 6LACK (pronounced "Black") — burst onto the R&B radar this year with his debut album, FREE 6BLACK, collaborations with Jhené Aiko and an opening slot on tour with fellow 60th GRAMMY nominee The Weeknd and Rae Sremmurd.
While his GRAMMY nod for Best Urban Contemporary Album pits him against some stiff competition, the rising star is used to a good battle.
"Middle school is when I got super obsessed with battle rapping," 6LACK told GQ. "All day in school, if I wasn't doing my work, I would be battling in the cafeteria, on the track outside the gym, in the hallways."
6LACK's hard-won rap skills combined with his melodic instincts make him a major player in R&B's future.
6. Bruno Mars In Orbit
Mars' blockbuster album 24K Magic and the celebrated single, "That's What I Like," make a strong statement for the modern crossover potential between R&B and pop — a mix that makes for an undeniable combination just as sure Mars' songs are catchy.
"It's very important that the world hears this album in its entirety," Mars said during a 2016 radio interview. "On this album, I really focused on giving you one continuous wave. As soon as you put this album on, you're going to be taken for a ride."
In addition to big-time nods in Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, and Song Of The Year, Mars is up for Best R&B Album, Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance.
7. Kehlani And The Weeknd Return
Two years ago, at the 58th GRAMMY Awards, The Weeknd established himself as a pop powerhouse, earning seven nominations, the same amount as Taylor Swift, and second only to Kendrick Lamar's staggering 11 nominations.
That same year was also a breakthrough year for Oakland native Kehlani, as she garnered her first nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album for her wildfire sophomore mixtape, You Should Be Here, turning the heads of everyone in the R&B community and setting a new precedent for mixtapes.
This year, both artists are back with nominations in the R&B Field. The Weeknd's critically acclaimed — and chart-topping — Starboy is up for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Kehlani returns with a nod for Best R&B Performance for her sultry song "Distraction" from her debut album, SweetSexySavage.
The 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Jan. 28, 2018, airing live on CBS from 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT.