The 2016 JUNO Awards have announced the list of nominees, and it’s a solid field when it comes to the Rap Recording of the Year category. (Really, you should listen to each of these albums.)
The nominations run the gamut from first-time nominees (BADBADNOTGOOD), to the most-nominated artist in the award’s history (Kardinal Offishall), to the biggest figure in hip-hop (Drake).
Allow us to guide you through each nominee and their hopes of winning.
BADBADNOTGOOD & GHOSTFACE KILLAH (Sour Soul)
Past Rap Recording of the Year Nominations: 0 Past Rap Recording of the Year Wins: 0 Standout Tracks: “Sour Soul,” “Gunshowers,” “Mind Playing Tricks,” “Ray Gun,” “Food,” “Nuggets of Wisdom” Why BBNG Should Win: These guys are making flat-out excellent music, and with live instrumentation. Is it any wonder that they’ve found eager collaborators in the likes of Ghostface Killah and Tyler, The Creator? BADBADNOTGOOD defy easy genre categorization, but suffice it to say, when they venture into the hip-hop realm (as they do with Sour Soul), the end result is superb. (Exhibit A: take a look at the sheer number of standout tracks listed.)
DRAKE (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late)
Past Rap Recording of the Year Nominations: 5 Past Rap Recording of the Year Wins: 3 Standout Tracks: “Energy,” “10 Bands,” “Know Yourself,” “6 Man” Why Drake Should Win: It goes without saying, but Drake is at the pinnacle of hip-hop right now. Giving the award to anyone not named Drake is like giving the NBA MVP Award to anyone besides LeBron — there may be other deserving candidates, but at the end of the day, you can’t argue about the most dominant figure in the game. (Also, have you looked at the tracklist for If You’re Reading This…? Pick any three of those songs, and at least one of them was a smash hit in 2015.)
KARDINAL OFFISHALL (Kardi Gras Vol. 1: The Clash)
Past Rap Recording of the Year Nominations: 8 Past Rap Recording of the Year Wins: 2 (including “Northern Touch”) Standout Tracks: “Hope,” “No Reason” Why Kardinal Should Win: Consistency. His first Rap Recording Nomination came in 1997, and Kardi has been steadily releasing quality music ever since. On The Clash, Kardinal delivers a blend of the party-ready anthems (“Baby It’s U!”) he’s become known for and message-laden songs (“Hope,” “No Reason”) worth re-winding again and again.
K-OS (Can’t Fly Without Gravity)
Past Rap Recording of the Year Nominations: 3 Past Rap Recording of the Year Wins: 1 Standout Tracks: “Spaceship,” “Crucify,” “Dance In Yo Car” Why K-OS Should Win: Versatility. Much like BADBADNOTGOOD, K-OS defies easy genre categorizations. Listening to Can’t Fly Without Gravity is like going on a whirlwind tour of musical styles that somehow blend together better than they should (case in point: “WiLD4TheNight” and “Spaceship” are on the same album, and yet, it isn’t strange). The defining factor of K-OS is this: have any other artist try to replicate the same fusion of styles, and it’ll fall apart. Only he can pull it off.
SONREAL (For The Town)
Past Rap Recording of the Year Nominations: 2 Past Rap Recording of the Year Wins: 0 Standout Tracks: “Try,” “Whoa Nilly,” “For The Town” Why SonReal Should Win: Momentum. SonReal has been on an absolute tear the last couple years, and he’s shown no signs of stopping — take a look at the string of video releases he’s done as proof. If it weren’t for “Inner Ninja” taking off in 2013, he’d have a JUNO Award already. If it doesn’t happen this year, it’s bound to soon.