(For a complete list of 54th GRAMMY Awards nominees, click here.)
In terms of the Rap Field nominees for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards, I was ready to "expect the unexpected." This past year was unique in that every aspect of rap music was stellar — from seasoned veterans such as Jay-Z and Kanye West to the innovative energy of Drake, Wiz Khalifa and Nicki Minaj. I had my predictions that the juggernauts would prevail, but I was not prepared for the nominations results.
West dominated the nominations — not only in rap, but for the entire GRAMMY field. His seven nominations include his club anthem, "All Of The Lights," which is up for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Rap Song, in addition to Song Of The Year; and his tag-team flow on "Otis" with Jay-Z, which is up for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. West also received a pair of nods for Best Rap Album for his hip-hop opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and his teaming with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne. I anticipated West's presence in the Rap Field, but I had no idea he would lead the pack across all genres.
Despite his personal woes about recording Lasers, Lupe Fiasco's nomination Best Rap Album was a pleasant surprise as his politically charged, club-thumping album was one of my favorites of 2011. His "The Show Goes On" received nods for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.
I consider Wiz Khalifa's "Black And Yellow" the obligatory fad song of the year, so it's no wonder his nomination for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance made my jaw drop.
Rappers are known for their collaborative efforts. One of the unexpected nominations this year was Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes' "Look At Me Now" for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. This is a classic example of veteran and newer artists coming together for something extraordinary. Nearly a 20-year veteran, Busta delivered some of the most fast-paced, free-flowing lyrics ever crammed into 16 bars, while Brown represented the new generation. It is also in the spirit of collaboration that Drake made his way to the list given his contributions to Minaj's "Moment 4 Life," which is nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
This year's rap nominees were also peppered with surprises such as Beyoncé and André 3000's "Party" and Eminem's "I Need A Doctor" with Dr. Dre and Skylar Grey.
Representing more than 25 years of excellence accented with youthful vigor, this year's Rap Field is one of the most diverse rosters ever. It illustrates the vitality of rap's past and the unwavering consistency of its future. The composition alone makes every nominee a winner.