The 60th Annual Grammy Awards are just days away, set to take place at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Sunday. This year’s ceremony finds several nominated artists on the verge of making history.
These Grammys also promise somewhat of a change from recent years. The music awards show has struggled to remain relevant and has faced critiques that it rewards mainstream appeal over innovation, especially after Adele’s 25 beat out Beyoncé’s Lemonade for album of the year last year. Drake, Frank Ocean and Kanye West were also all no-shows at the 2017 Grammys — a move that was seen as a rebuke of the show’s failure to reward artists of color.
But this year’s Grammy nominations, which prominently acknowledge young artists of color like SZA, Khalid and Cardi B, represent, to some, an attempt to prove that the show can accurately reflect the diversity of the music industry. Some of those newer faces, as well as respected icons, are all in position to score landmark wins come Sunday.
We could see the first woman artist to win for best rap song
Both Cardi B and Rapsody have a shot at becoming the first woman rap artist to win the award for best rap song in the category’s entire history on Sunday night. Cardi B, aka Belcalis Almanzar, the South Bronx native who first became famous through her role on the reality TV show Love & Hip Hop: New York, had a major hit this year with her song “Bodak Yellow.” The smash single went to the top of the Billboard charts and earned her a Grammy nomination for best rap song.
Rapsody, born Marlanna Evans, is a North Carolina native whose 2017 album Laila’s Wisdom garnered critical acclaim, is also in the running for best rap song, for “Sassy.” She already has one Grammy nomination under her belt from her work on Kendrick Lamar’s already-classic third album, To Pimp a Butterfly, which was nominated for album of the year in 2016.
Rapsody could also become only the second woman to win best rap album
Rapsody is also nominated for the Grammy for best rap album, for Laila’s Wisdom. If she wins on Sunday, she would become only the second woman to win in the category since Lauryn Hill won with the Fugees in 1997, for the group’s second album, The Score.
A hip-hop/rap album could win album of the year
A hip-hop or rap album hasn’t won in the prestigious album of the year category at the Grammys since OutKast took home the top trophy for their double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, in 2004 — and the only other hip-hop album to win in the category was Lauryn Hill’s debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, in 1999. This year, Jay Z’s 4:44 and Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. are both nominated in the category, meaning that either of them could make history by being only the third artist to win album of the year for a hip-hop album.
“Despacito” could be the first Spanish-language song to win song of the year
“Despacito,” perhaps the most ubiquitous song of 2017, could make history by becoming the first Spanish-language song to win a Grammy for song of the year. The track, performed by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee and featuring a verse by Justin Bieber, would be the first non-English song to win song of the year since the very first Grammy Awards in 1959, when Domenico Modugno and Franco Migliacci won for “Volare,” which was sung in Italian, the Los Angeles Times reported in November 2017.
For the first time in history, no white male artists are eligible to win album of the year
No matter who takes home the Grammy for album of the year on Sunday, we know for sure that it won’t be a white male artist. This year’s nominees for album of the year are Childish Gambino for Awaken, My Love!, Jay-Z for 4:44, Kendrick Lamar for Damn., Lorde for Melodrama and Bruno Mars for 24K Magic.
Meaning that, for the first time in history, there are no white male artists nominated in the category — and considering the criticism of the Grammys in recent years, it’s a sign that the awards show may be paying more attention to the reality of the industry than it has in a long time.