Will Win: Jay-Z, 4:44

The Grammys's voting bodies' familiarity with Jay-Z and their tendency to favor storybook career arcs lead me to believe that he'll take home Best Rap Album honors for his compelling work on 4:44. In many ways it's deserved. This is one of Jigga Man's sharpest projects, both lyrically and sonically, as well as his most personal and revealing. He exceeded all expectations, closed several chapters, and opened the door to create new material if he so pleases. For all intents and purposes 4:44 could serve as his swan's song, and I can't see the Grammys missing out on that. 

Should Win: Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

Hov may have this one in the can, but Kendrick had the best rap album of 2017. It captured everything that a great rap album needs to be—and wants to be—in 2017. The lyrics were sturdy, gripping, and often fun. He had wordplay, varying rhyme structures, and some of the best storytelling we've heard on wax in years. Additionally, the beats were unique, with Kendrick employing a range of production landscapes that few others could tackle. And rap tenets aside, he had mainstream smashes that buoyed the double-platinum project since its release. This is his time, and the Grammys should prepare themselves for foul cries if they don't acknowledge this.

Dark Horse: Migos, Culture

Migos' Culture is a really good album. Surely their best. It's just good enough, and big enough to have dominated the mainstream for a decent portion of 2017. I could see this winning with the Grammys making a play for performative relevance.