JAY-Z & Kendrick Lamar Are Competing For Best Lyricist On Music’s Biggest Stage

Earlier today (November 15), the Recording Academy announced their 65th annual Grammy Awards nominees in an online broadcast featuring Smokey Robinson, John Legend, and others. The precursor to the CBS televised February 5, 2023 event sets the stage for an exciting night for fans, especially those who closely follow the careers of JAY-Z and Kendrick Lamar.

As they did five years ago, K-Dot and Hova will compete in multiple categories. Although Jay did not release an LP in this eligibility window, his massive DJ Khaled “God Did” verse grabbed “Best Rap Performance” (alongside Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, John Legend, and Fridayy). “God Did” and “The Heart 5” also received a “Best Rap Song” nomination against Kendrick’s loosie “The Heart Part 5.” Each of these tracks landed in “Song Of The Year” and “Record Of The Year” too—where both Jay and Kendrick have been nominated without a win.

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Kendrick’s video single was subsequently attached to the Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers album, which competes against Khaled’s GOD DID LP. Also contending for “Best Rap Album” is Pusha-T’s It’s Almost DryJack Harlow’s Come Home The Kids Miss You, and Future’s I NEVER LIKED YOU. In 2019, Pusha’s DAYTONA ultimately lost to Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy.

As is now tradition, the Ambrosia For Heads team broke down the nominations, opined on significant snubs, and made predictions on episode #94 of the What’s The Headline podcast:

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As discussed in the podcast, even as stunning “B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe (Remix)” collaborators, Kendrick and JAY-Z have been competing at the Grammy’s for years. In 2014, both men lost to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in the “Best Rap Album” category, while Kendrick’s good kid, M.A.A.D. City fell to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories for “Album Of The Year”—a nomination that JAY-Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail did not get. Four years later, after each artist won several awards, they squared off again after Jay’s 4:44 and Kendrick’s DAMN. campaigns. Lamar took home all four Rap categories against an empty-handed Jay. JAY-Z was nominated for eight categories. In the highest-profile contest, both artists yielded to Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic for “Album Of The Year.”

Now, in 2022, these two lyrical legends square up in “Best Rap Performance,” “Best Rap Song,” and the aforementioned “Best Rap Album.” Hov’s guest verse on Khaled’s song has garnered major acclaim within his last few months. Kendrick stands without Jay in the “Album Of The Year” running. Kendrick, who already has 14 awards, marks his fourth consecutive time in his career that he’s been nominated for “Album Of The Year,” including good kid, M.A.D.D. city, To Pimp A Butterfly, DAMN., and the 2018’s Black Panther soundtrack, which he co-produced and orchestrated. Neither Kendrick nor Jay has ever won that category. In Hip-Hop, it last went to OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004.

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Before 2022, Lamar’s last two albums, DAMN. and To Pimp A Butterfly, took home “Best Rap Album” honors. Despite 11 nominations, JAY-Z has only won once—for his third album, 1998’s Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life. Last year, he and Baby Keem won “Best Rap Performance” for 2021’s “family ties.” It marked K-Dot’s fifth win in that category. Jay has two, both stemming from Watch The Throne.

Notably, several artists and projects were snubbed by the academy in today’s news. On today’s What’s The Headline, the AFH team advocated on behalf of JID’s The Forever Story, Joey Bada$$’s 2000, Black Star’s No Fear Of Time, and Black Thought & Danger Mouse’s Cheat Codes. The albums and songs were omitted from this year’s nominations.

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Other nominees in other categories include Questlove’s Music Is History (“Best Audiobook”), Freestyle Fellowship’s To Whom It May Concern 30th-anniversary re-release (“Best Historical Album”), Robert Glasper’s Black Radio III (“Best R&B Album”), Terrace Martin’s DRONES (“Best Progressive R&B Album”), and Boi-1da and DJ Dahi, respectively, for “Producer Of The Year.” Tobe Nwigwe is up for “Best New Artist” several years into an impressive DIY career.

The Grammys will air on CBS February 5, 2023.

The timecodes of episode #94 of What’s The Headline:

0:00 Intro
3:57 Best Rap Performance
6:38 Was “The Heart Pt. 5” Kendrick Lamar’s best song this year
19:52 Who will win the night between Kendrick Lamar and JAY-Z
24:34 Best Melodic Rap Performance
28:40 Best Rap Song
34:40 If “GOD DID” were to win, should this count as a first Rick Ross Grammy
36:05 Song Of The Year
41:20 Kendrick Lamar and JAY-Z are competing in four categories. There is a lot of history and a Grammy rivalry here
42:40 Could Kendrick Lamar’s The Heart Part 5 take Music Video Of The Year
44:10 What’s the difference between Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year
45:00 Record The Year 46:40 Song Of The Year
48:00 Album Of The Year 52:20 Will Kendrick Lamar attend the Grammy Awards this time
53:25 Best Rap Album nominations
54:40 Does Kanye West’s role in Pusha-T’s It’s Almost Dry album make it a Grammy liability
55:00 Predicted winner of Best Rap Album
57:00 Joey Bada$$’s 2000, Black Star’s No Fear Of Time, JID’s The Forever Story were snubbed by the Grammys
59:05 Tobe Nwigwe, Freestyle Fellowship, Questlove, Boi-1da, DJ Dahi, Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Dave Chappelle, and others received noteworthy nominations
1:05:50 Song Of The Week from a Grammy-nominated project

#BonusBeat: New music from Kendrick Lamar, JAY-Z, Pusha-T, DJ Khaled, Young Thug, Robert Glasper, and others is currently on the official AFH playlist: