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the 56th Annual Grammy Awards

2014-grammy-logo With just around the corner (airing January 26thon CBS), here are SoulTrain.com’s unofficial predictions for the big hip-hop and R&B wins of the night. Note, likely winners don’t always match up with the most deserving nominee.

Best R&B Performance Nominees:

Tamar Braxton, “Love & War”

Anthony Hamilton, “Best of Me”

Hiatus Kaiyote Featuring Q-Tip, “Nakamarra”

Miguel Featuring Kendrick Lamar, How Many Drinks”

Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway, “Something”

Predicted Winner:

While I’d give it to Snarky Puppy based on Ms. Hathaway’s out-of-this-world vocals alone (how in the world to you harmonize with yourself?), it’s a toss-up between Miguel and Tamar to see who takes this one. The academy is known to try and “make up” for previously snubbing an artist, as they did to Miguel last year, so my bet is that he and K.Dot take the prize home.

Best Traditional R&B Performance:

Gary Clarke Jr., “Please Come Home”

Fantasia, “Get it Right”

Maysa, “Quiet Fire”

Gregory Porter, “Hey Laura”

Ryan Shaw, “Yesterday”

Predicted Winner:

All of these tracks are worthy contenders who take you back to the days of beautiful harmonies and meaningful songwriting.  Most would give this to Fantasia, but I’m going to take a chance and say the academy will award the phenomenal Gary Clarke Jr. for “Please Come Home.”  He’s right at the cusp of stardom without being too much on the radar, traits they’ve been known to recognize in this category.

Best R&B Song:

Justin Timberlake, “Pusher Love Girl”

Anthony Hamilton, “Best of Me”

Tamar Braxton, “Love and War”

PJ Morton ft. Stevie Wonder, “Only One”

Fantasia ft. Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliott, “Without Me”

Predicted Winner:

Toni’s baby sis should definitely have her moment on that big stage, taking home the Grammy in this category. Her closest competition would be Mr. Timberlake, who—while undoubtedly the biggest artist nominated—simply wouldn’t fly with anyone if he were to lock down the R&B award.

Best Urban Contemporary Album:

Tamar Braxton, Love And War

Rihanna, Unapologetic

Salaam Remi, One: In the Chamber

Fantasia, Side Effects of You

Mack Wilds, New York: A Love Story

Predicted Winner:

RiRi and Tamar will be battling this one out, but I’m almost certain the Barbadian songstress will take the cake, cake, cake (*rimshot!).  Fantasia’s latest release could pull off an upset as well, but I wouldn’t put my money on it.

Best R&B Album:

Alicia Keys, Girl On Fire

TGT, Three Kings

Faith Evans, R&B Divas

John Legend, Love In The Future

Chrisette Michelle, Better

Predicted Winner:

My vote goes to TGT’s Three Kings, it still gives me all kinds of life every time I listen.  The academy, however, will be unlikely to go that route (I hope I’m wrong), and will hand the statue to either Alicia Keys or John Legend.  While Keys is without a doubt a Grammy darling, Girl On Fire left much to be desired by fans and critics alike. Legend, however, crafted (yet another) beautiful album that will likely add another award to his already crowded mantle.

Best Rap Album:

Drake, Nothing Was The Same

Kanye West, Yeezus

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist

Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city

Jay Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail

Predicted Winner:

Kendrick will, and rightfully deserves, to win. GKMC was pretty much flawless and universally loved by critics, hip-hop fans and casual listeners alike. Drake or Macklemore could sneak a win, but it would not be based on their bodies of work.

Best Rap Performance:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop”

Eminem, “Berzerk”

Jay Z, “Tom Ford”

Drake, “Started From The Bottom”

Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”

Best Rap Performance is about the best overall song, unlike like Best Rap Song, which focuses on songwriting.  That being said, I’m sure Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” will take the cake here.   I’d personally give it to Jay Z’s “Tom Ford,” but I have a feeling the academy will be making a statement with this award.

Best Rap Song:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop”

Kanye West, “New Slaves”

A$AP Rocky feat. 2 Chainz, Drake & Kendrick Lamar, “F****n’ Problem”

Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake, “Holy Grail”

Drake, “Started From The Bottom”

Predicted Winner:

As a songwriting award, this is all about lyrical content.  I think Yeezy’s “New Slaves” is lyrically the most potent track nominated, and I think the academy will recognize that. There’s a chance that the monumental success of “Thrift Shop” could give it the win, but of these five, “New Slaves” is definitely the most deserving.

Best Rap-Sung Collaboration:

Wiz Khalifa feat. The Weekend, “Remember You”

Jay Z feat. Beyoncé, “Part II (On The Run)”

Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake, “Holy Grail”

Kendrick Lamar feat. Mary J Blige, “Now or Never”

J. Cole feat. Miguel, “Power Trip”

Predicted Winner:

As far as I’m concerned, J. Cole and Miguel should win this by several miles, but there’s no way Jay and Justin aren’t going home with this one.  “Holy Grail” made a hell of an impression last year and is nothing short of a shoo-in here.

—Jessica Bennett

Jessica Bennett is a freelance journalist and Executive Editor of Rhymes & Dimes Magazine, as well as a blogger for renowned culture site, TheStarkLife.com, and columnist for hip-hop site RefinedHype.com.   She’s originally from Compton, CA and currently lives in NYC.

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