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It can be definitively said that 2017 was a great year for music. We got new projects from Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, SZA, N.E.R.D., Tyler, the Creator and lots of other great artists. In terms of Grammy nominees, there is a lot of melanin and it's pretty amazing.
Out of all of the artists and music that was nominated for this year’s Grammy Awards, SZA and Childish Gambino are definitely two of my favorite. I have been following Gambino’s career since Weirdo (2012) and have even watched Mystery Team (2009) and listened to 'Sick Boi' (2008), which both do an amazing job of showing Gambino's artist growth over the years. While SZA is a new addition to my music library, she has been around since at least 2014 and has written for the likes of Rihanna and Queen Bey. I’m going to analyze their Grammy nominations and make some predictions as to whether they’ll be taking home a golden phonograph.
Let’s start with SZA (Savior/Sovereign Zig-Zag Allah, per the Supreme Alphabet). She is a complete goddess with an amazing fashion sense, incredibly melodic singing voice and big hair. Her artist whose album, 'Ctrl' (2017) discusses the issues that many black women have gone through but would not get on their soapbox and discuss including being stood up at a party, feeling insecure and being the other woman. For this reason, I think that SZA is a shoo-in for Best New Artist. She, along with artists like Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Halsey, is changing the female dialogue within music and asserting that not only is it okay to talk about all aspects of your pain, but it might even be necessary. To date, her songs "Supermodel," "The Weekend," "Love Galore," and "Drew Barrymore," collectively have over 291 million streams on Spotify. As a new artist, she has worked to defy genres and stereotypes by simply being honest. Her song "Supermodel" is a letter to a former lover where SZA expresses her desire to find the balance between self-confidence and securing the love that she wants. This song is a staple for women who allow men's desire to change how they project themselves to the world.
Childish Gambino has been slowly, but surely taking over the world since 2008. Not only in the realm of music, but in comedy, television and film. So, the fact that he was able to achieve the music excellence that is 'Awaken, My Love' is amazing. The singing chops that he demonstrates on the album are an incredible display of talent, let alone the revival of funk that the album brings forth. I'm sure that everyone has seen his Jimmy Fallon performance and was struck by how much better than the (already amazing) original he sounded. "Redbone" has been used in the soundtrack for Get Out (2017), which was nominated for four Oscars, and Netflix's Dear White People (2017). Additionally, the song has been interpreted into several memes and helped coin what can be argued as the phrase of 2017: "stay woke."
Cohesively, 'Awaken, My Love' works extremely well as a body of work. The production of each song generates a nostalgic feel within the listener; one that brings back thoughts of P-Funk and Zapp & Roger. I was particularly drawn in by the bass on songs like "Terrified" and "Baby Boy," as well as the guitar riffs on songs like "Me and Your Mama" and "Boogieman."
I think that Gambino is a shoo-in for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and Best Traditional R&B Song of the Year. If he does not win these awards, he is being robbed.
Do you think Childish Gambino and SZA have a shot? Tune into the Grammys on January 28, 2018.