Although the Grammys were slow to recognize hip-hop, over the past decade, rap acts have enjoyed a bevy of Grammy nominations, often emerging as the leader when nominations are announced.

This year, rap leads the way again, with the omnipresent rapper Lil Wayne receiving eight nominations.

While the bulk of Lil Wayne’s nominations come in the rap categories, he’s nominated for arguably the most coveted award of the night — album of the year — for Tha Carter III.

Given that the CD was not only 2008’s best-selling album but also delivered two of the year’s biggest singles — Lollipop and A Milli — it would seem that momentum is on Lil Wayne’s side.

Yet if the past is any indicator, Lil Wayne may go home empty-handed in the album category, with his wins contained in the rap categories.

While rap or hip-hop albums have been nominated every year for a best album Grammy since 2000 (2006 was the exception), its two victories — Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 2000 and OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004 — have been for hip-hop albums highlighted by the artists’ musicality, not their rhyming skills. “Lil Wayne indisputably made the best album of 2008,” said Blender’s editor-in-chief Joe Levy. “Are the voters going to recognize it?... Hard to say. Hip-hop still remains challenging to Grammy voters, who include guys who were making records 40 years agos.”

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