Kanye West has had a massive year. Though 2016 wasn't always a good one for the rapper, it was certainly eventful. He began the year releasing his latest album, The Life of Pablo, and then spent the next month revising it before re-uploading the altered album to streaming platforms. Immediately after its release, he got caught up in a months-long feud with Taylor Swift over "Famous" lyrics, then embarked on the epic Saint Pablo tour before reportedly being hospitalized for exhaustion in late November. It's been a rough year, but it may end on a more hopeful note if Kanye West earns more Grammy nominations when they are announced on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Kanye is no stranger to Grammy success. Out of a whopping 57 total nominations, he has won 21 awards. West's immense talent helps him branch out to receive nominations not just as a rapper, but also as a songwriter and producer for other artists. As he's begun to focus more on his own career, however, he's become a consistent presence in the Rap categories at the Grammys. In an especially strong year for rap, including major releases by Drake and Chance The Rapper, does West stand a chance at maintaining his throne? Here's a look at West's likeliest Grammy noms in 2017.
Best Rap Album
Every Kanye solo album, starting with 2005's The College Dropout, has won the Grammy for Best Rap Album, except for the experimental Yeezus (which only got a nomination) and the incredibly divisive 808s & Heartbreak, which was ignored almost entirely by the Grammys. Despite 2016's strong roster of rap releases, it's likely that West will at the very least find himself a nomination for Best Rap Album for the nearly indescribable The Life Of Pablo.
Best Rap Performance
Best Rap Performance at the Grammys focuses more on vocal performance than songwriting, and West is a much stronger lyricist than he is a rapper. But that hasn't stopped West from giving some amazing performances, garnering nominations in this category for debut single "Through The Wire" in 2005, the arena-friendly "Power" in 2011, and cuts "Mercy" and "All Day" in 2013 and 2016, respectively. He's even garnered a few wins in the category for smash hit "Gold Digger" in 2006, the Daft Punk-sampling "Stronger" in 2008, and collaborations "Southside" and "Swagga Like Us" in 2008 and 2009.
If he wants to win this Grammy in 2017, his best shot may be with "No More Parties In L.A.," a six-minute track of West giving one of his best rap performances, preceded by a verse from hip hop superstar Kendrick Lamar.
Best Rap Song
Kanye West is a songwriter of the highest degree, and his multiple Grammy wins in the category for Best Rap Song prove that point. He has won six Grammys out of 13 nominations in this category, having been nominated nearly every year since 2005. Nominations include "Can't Tell Me Nothing" in 2008, T.I. collaboration "Swagga Like Us" in 2009, Watch The Throne single "Otis" in 2012, G.O.O.D. Music track "Mercy" in 2013, Yeezus cuts "New Slaves" and "Bound 2" in 2014 and 2015 respectively, and non-album track "All Day" in 2016. As for his many wins in the category, there's 2005's "Jesus Walks," 2006's "Diamonds From Sierra Leone," 2008's "Good Life," 2010's "Run This Town," 2012's "All Of The Lights," and 2013's "N*****s In Paris."
It's been a few years since Kanye's last win, but standout tracks like "Ultralight Beam" or "Real Friends" may be enough to place him back on top.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Kanye's Grammy prowess also extends to his collaborations with singers. The Life Of Pablo features a bevy of collaborators, many of whom sing over the entrancing beats featured on the album. In the past, Kanye has taken home collaboration Grammys for featured verses on 2009's "American Boy" alongside Estelle and 2010's "Run This Town" with Jay-Z and Rihanna. Kanye and Rihanna's collaborative success extended to the Grammy win for 2012's "All of the Lights", while his relationship with Jay-Z garnered a Grammy win for "No Church In The Wild" in 2013 alongside Frank Ocean and The-Dream. West's nominations in this category range from early hits "All Falls Down" and "Slow Jamz" to recent tracks "Bound 2" and "One Man Can Change The World."
In 2017, it's likely that "Famous" will be a major contender in this category despite some controversial lyrics about Taylor Swift. However, West's "Wolves," a collaboration with Vic Mensa and pop juggernaut Sia, may prove to be a dark horse in this category.
While Kanye is certainly a lock for the rap categories, it seems that he has been unable to attain the Album of the Year Grammy that has eluded him since the beginning of his career. His first three albums, The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation all garnered nominations for Album of the Year. However, despite racking up those 57 nominations, he hasn't had such extreme success since then. The Life of Pablo is certainly a landmark release in Kanye's career and rap music — but is it too experimental to garner an Album of the Year nomination? We'll know for sure once the 2017 Grammy nominations are announced.
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