In 2017, R&B/Hip-Hop music reached new heights of popularity by becoming the most consumed music genre. And the genre shows no sign of slowing down in 2018 based on the number of GRAMMY nominations it’s garnered. Four of the five Album of the Year nominations come from the R&B/Hip-Hop genre.
Jay-Z, who leads all artists with eight GRAMMY nominations this year, had his album 4:44 reach No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 in July 2017. Following closely behind with seven nominations this year, Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN. will go head to head with 4:44 in the Album of the Year and Best Rap Album categories.
Kendrick Lamar’s music was more commercially popular than Jay-Z’s in 2017. Kendrick was the No. 3 artist of 2017 for total digital album sales, according to the Nielsen 2017 Year-End Music Report. All 14 tracks from DAMN. made the Hot 100 chart, a feat only achieved by four other artists.
While Jay-Z didn’t see the same level of chart-topping success as Kendrick Lamar, his emotional tracks from 4:44 received critical acclaim. This is the first Album of the Year nomination for Jay-Z, who has earned 21 GRAMMYs and has sold over 30 million albums in his career-to-date.
Behind Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars is the third-most nominated artist in this year’s GRAMMYs. Bruno Mars' six nominations include Album of the Year for his 24K Magic, which has sold over 1.2 million albums since its release. He is also up for Song of the Year for "That's What I Like," which was the second biggest song on all U.S. radio in 2017, behind only Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You."
Artists SZA, Childish Gambino and Khalid, as well as producer No I.D., have received equal recognition, with five GRAMMY nominations each. Compared commercially, Khalid leads the way. Songs from 19-year-old Khalid’s debut album American Teen have been streamed nearly 2 billion times, and the album has remained in the top 30 of the Billboard Top 200 chart every week since its release in March. Still, SZA’s “Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott saw success with more than 300 million streams since its release, while Childish Gambino’s nominations include Record of the Year and Best R&B Song for his song “Redbone,” which has been streamed over 520 million times since its release. And producer No I.D.’s nominations include three for his work on Jay-Z’s 4:44 album.
Hip-Hop breakouts, alongside female pop artists, also lead the way in the Best New Artist category, which recognizes emerging artists. In addition to Khalid and SZA, nominees include breakthrough hip-hop artist Lil Uzi Vert, as well as female pop acts Alessia Cara and Julia Michaels. Lil Uzi Vert enjoyed great success in 2017 with his album Luv Is Rage 2, which has been in the top 20 of the Billboard Top 200 chart every week since its release in August. He was also the seventh-most streamed artist of the year, with his songs reaching nearly 3.5 billion streams, including over 900 million for his song “Xo Tour Llif3,” which was the third-most streamed song of the year.
While R&B/Hip-Hop garnered many recognitions this year, it’s certainly not the only genre honored in this year’s GRAMMYs. Afterall, what would a celebration of the best in music be without recognizing the success of the Latin crossover hit “Despacito,” which is nominated for three awards including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The song by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee was already shaping up to be a major hit, but the release of the remix version featuring Justin Bieber in April took this song to record-setting territory, including over 1.3 billion streams and a record-tying 16-week run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The 60th GRAMMY Awards show will air live from New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28, 2018.