It’s almost that time of year again: Grammy time! So, I’m getting out my crystal ball to tell you who will take home statuettes in the rap categories on Feb. 8.
First up, best female rap solo performance.
Unfortunately, this category is often the weakest in terms of talent. With a lack of female MCs making music, the same artists are often lauded for sub-par work. That said, on with my predictions.
Who should win: “Work It,” Missy Elliott (Gold Mind/Elektra Entertainment Group). This should be a slam dunk for Elliott, who will likely win more than one Grammy this year.
Who will win: Missy Elliott.
For best male rap solo performance, there were a few surprises, including nominations for Joe Budden and Sean Paul.
Who should win: “Lose Yourself,” Eminem (Shady/Interscope Records). Serving as the lead single to his “8 Mile” soundtrack, “Lose Yourself” was one of the best-written songs in any genre this year.
Who will win: “In Da Club,” 50 Cent (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records). Everyone’s favorite thug will likely scoop his label chief in this category, as he had everyone “partying like it was their birthday” last year.
This year’s best rap performance by a duo or group nominations had me scratching my head. Where was a nod for Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’s crunk anthem “Get Low?”
Who should win: An un-nominated Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz featuring Ying Yang Twins for “Get Low.”
Who will win: “Gossip Folks,” Missy Elliott Featuring Ludacris (Gold Mind/Elektra Entertainment Group). It’s the best nominated song in the bunch.
I always find the best rap/sung collaboration category to be an interesting one. What’s more important — the lyric or the melody?
Who should win: “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z (Columbia Records/Music World Music). Truly offering the best of both worlds, “Crazy in Love” is what this category is all about.
Who will win: Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z.
Best rap song may be the easiest pick of the lot.
Who should win: “Lose Yourself,” J. Bass, M. Mathers & L. Resto, songwriters (performer: Eminem), Shady/Interscope Records. Publisher: Eight Mile Style. Again, Eminem shows why he’s considered one of hip-hop’s best lyricists, with this semi-autobiographical narrative.
Who will win: Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”
On the other hand, best rap album may be the most difficult rap category to predict.
Who should win: “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” OutKast (Arista Records). As I’ve said previously, this is the best album released in 2003.
Who will win: A tough call. While OutKast is the critics’ darling, 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ “ may have the industry vote. In the end, I think Andre 3000 and Big Boi will win out over 50.
Rashaun Hall is R&B editor of Airplay Monitor, a Billboard sister publication.