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An up-and-down relationship with hip-hop

February 08, 2009|Todd Martens

Lil Wayne winning album of the year? That wouldn't just be a surprise, it would be a Grammy landmark considering that most of the rapper's catalog isn't appropriate for prime time, and the ceremony didn't even have a best rap album category until 1996. What follows is a brief look at how hip-hop has fared in the Grammys' top contests.

1991: MC Hammer's "Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em" becomes the first hip-hop record to garner an album of the year nomination, one of five Grammy nods for the light-footed rapper. Hammer loses to "Back on the Block" from Quincy Jones, which features guest appearances from hip-hop stars Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane and Kool Moe Dee.

1993: Earthy Southern rappers Arrested Development win best new artist.

1994: The soundtrack to "The Bodyguard" takes top honors in the album of the year field, but jazzy hip-hop act Digable Planets scores a best new artist nod (they lose to Toni Braxton).

1997: Hip-hop trio the Fugees earn an album of the year nomination for "The Score" but lose to Celine Dion's "Falling Into You."

1999: The Fugees' Lauryn Hill goes solo and sets a record. With "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," she becomes the first female solo artist to win five awards in one night. Hers is the first hip-hop release to win album of the year. Hill is also named best new artist.

2001: Grammy voters nominate Detroit rapper Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP" for album of the year; Steely Dan's "Two Against Nature" wins the prize.

2002: Atlanta duo OutKast snares an album of the year nod for its adventurous "Stankonia," but Grammy voters give the award to the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

2003: Eminem is nominated for "The Eminem Show" but loses to Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me." The latter ties Hill's record for five wins by a female solo artist in one night.

2004: OutKast takes home the top prize with the double-disc "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," an album bolstered by the massive crossover success of single "Hey Ya!"

2005: Chicago-bred rapper Kanye West scores 10 nominations with his "The College Dropout" (including best new artist). Album of the year goes to Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company"; Maroon 5 is named best new artist.

2006: West's "Late Registration" brings in eight nominations, but the album of the year goes to U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb."

2008: Again, West's eight nominations for "Graduation" don't result in an album of the year win. He loses to Herbie Hancock.

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todd.martens@latimes.com

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