Rappers Kendrick Lamar and Drake may lead the Grammy Award nominations, but Sunday’s live ceremony in Los Angeles could see Bronx-native Cardi B take home her first-ever Grammy and petentially become the first rapper since 2004 to win the coveted album of the year award for her “Invasion of Privacy.”
Outspoken rapper Cardi B, whose music and personal life have dominated pop culture for the past two years, including criminal charges of reckless endangerment and assault, leads the charge on music’s biggest night with a live performance and five Grammy nominations, including album and record of the year.
“I think that all these nominations are validation for everythng she’s done over the past few years,” said Dan Rys, news director for Billboard magazine. “There was a time not too long ago when people were talking about her being a one-hit wonder — and then she came back and released what was inarguably one of the best rap albums of the year.”
“It would be a huge statement if she won album of the year: the first rap album to win that category since 2003, and the first female rapper to win, as well given that Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation album was technically nominated in the R&B categories,” Rys added.
R&B singer Alicia Keys will host the Grammys for the first time, while Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae, Camila Cabello and Kacey Musgraves are also among the performers at the Los Angeles ceremony.
Adding to the star power, Motown legend Diana Ross will take the stage to mark her 75th birthday in March, and hopes are high that Lady Gaga will perform her Grammy and Oscar-nominated song “Shallow” from the movie “A Star is Born.”
Yet Cardi B is likely to grab most of the attention. The 26-year-old New York artist is one of only a handful of female rappers and has captured attention with her message of female empowerment, on-and-off marriage to rapper Offset, and a string of hit records and collaborations, including “I Like It,” “Girls Like You” and “Taki Taki.”
It is a far cry from 2018, when the dearth of female nominees and performers caused a media uproar and prompted the Recording Academy, whose members choose the Grammy winners, to expand the number of nominees in the top four categories to eight from five.
This year five of the eight nominees for the coveted album of the year award are women — Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy,” Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer,” folk singer Brandi Carlile’s “By the Way, I Forgive You,” country artist Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” and R&B newcomer H.E.R.’s self-titled “H.E.R.” Six of the eight musicians competing for best new artist are also women, including “New Rules” British singer Dua Lipa, Chloe & Halle, Bebe Rexha and H.E.R.
While the show may give the impression that girls run the world, there is no guarantee how many will take home a Grammy.
Lamar leads with eight nods, many of them for writing most of the “Black Panther” movie soundtrack album, which is up for album of the year. Drake, the most commercially successful artist of 2018, follows with seven nominations, including for his album “Scorpion” and single “God’s Plan.”
The Grammy Awards take place in Los Angeles on Sunday and will be broadcast live on CBS television at 8 p.m. ET.
(Reuters’ Jill Serjeant and Bill Berkrot contributed to this story)