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Kendrick Lamar leads Grammy nominations


Hip hop artist and Compton native Kendrick Lamar Monday earned a leading 11 nominations for the 58th annual Grammy Awards while Taylor Swift and The Weeknd each received seven nods.

All three were nominated for the coveted Album of the Year prize—Lamar for “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Swift for “1989” and The Weeknd for “Beauty Behind the Madness.” Also nominated were Alabama Shakes for “Sound and Color” and Chris Stapleton for “Traveler.” Swift’s “Blank Space” and The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” were nominated for Record of the Year, along with D’Angelo and the Vanguard for “Really Love,” Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for “Uptown Funk” and Ed Sheeran for “Thinking Out Loud.”

“Blank Space” and “Thinking Out Loud” also earned Song of the Year nods for Swift and Sheeran. Also up for the prize, which is awarded to the songwriters, are Lamar’s “Alright,” Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” and Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.”

Up for Best New Artist are Courtney Barnett, James Bay, Sam Hunt, Tori Kelly and Meghan Trainor.

Swift’s “Bad Blood,” which also features Lamar, was nominated for bestpop duo/group performance, as was Khalifa’s See You Again,” which feature Charlie Puth. Also tabbed in the category were Ronson and Mars’ “UptowFunk,” Maroon 5’s “Sugar” and Florence and the Machine’s “Ship to Wreck.”

Lamar also landed in the best rap album category for “To Pimp a Butterfly.” He will compete with J. Cole for “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” Dr. Dre’s “Compton,” Drake’s “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” and Nicki Minaj’s “The Pinkprint.”

Alabama Shakes, meanwhile, will look to take home the best alternative music album prize for Sound & Color.” Also up for the prize are Bjork for Vulnicura,” My Morning Jacket for  The Waterfall,” Tame Impala for “Currents” and Wilco for “Star Wars.”

The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” is up for best urban contemporary album, as are “The Internet for “Ego Death,” Kehlani’s “You Should Be Here,” Lianne La Havas for “Blood” and Miguel for “Wildheart.”

Chris Stapleton, a big winner at the recent Country Music Association Awards, was also nominated for best country album for “Traveller.” Also nominated in the category were Sam Hunt for “Montevallo,” Little Big Town for “Pain Killer,” Ashley Monroe for “The Blade”and Kacey Musgraves for “Pageant Material.”

Former President Jimmy Carter also landed on the lengthy list of Grammy nominees, earning a nod in the best spoken word album category for “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.” Dick Cavett is in the category for “Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments and Assorted Hijinks,” as is Amy Poehler for “Yes Please.” Rounding out the category are Patti Smith for “Blood on Snow” and Janis Ian and Jean Smart for “`Patience and Sarah (Isabel Miller).”

According to Oral Ofori, founder of TheAfricanDream, an information and communication consultancy focused on African affairs, there are a number of other Afro-centric performers nominated for Grammys. “Branches of The Same Tree,” the latest album of the Ghanaian Afro roots artist Rocky Dawuni was nominated under the Best Reggae Album category.

The album, which is Rocky’s sixth studio album, was released in March 2015 on Cumbancha. The artist embarked on international tours to promote the album throughout the year. Rocky said he is: “humbled by the Grammy nomination. It is a victory for all great Ghanaian musicians upon whose shoulders I have nurtured my inspiration. It’s a good day for Africa and positive music.”

This is Dawuni’s first Grammy nomination and makes him the first Ghanaian nominated in this genre. It also finds him competing for the prestigious global award with Reggae greats like Morgan Heritage, Jah Cure, Barrington Levy, and Luciano.

Others nominated include The Weeknd, of which Canadian-born Ethiopian musician Abel Tesfaye is a member. The group has been nominated eight times, including under the R&B category for their song “Earned It.” This selection was performed by Tesfaye in the sound track for the movie “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

Under rap song of the year, the single “All Day” from the seventh studio album by Kanye West titled SWISH also earned a Grammy nomination. West credited more than 20 artists for writing songs on this album, including Victor Kwesi Mensah, popularly known as Vic Mensah, a Chicago, Ill.-based hip hop artiste with a Ghanaian father.

Two-time Grammy winning artist Angelique Kidjo of Benin first won a Grammy in 2008 for her eighth studio album titled “Djin Djin,” then again in 2014 at the 57th annual Grammy Awards for her album “Eve” in the World Music category. This year Kidjo will compete once against Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the world music category, which Angelique won last year.

The Zomba Prison Project, an innovative advocacy based music effort involving prisoners in Zomba Prison is also nominated for the album “I Have Nothing Here.” Zomba is a dilapidated prison on the border of Malawi and Mozambique where producer Ian Brennan specifically to document and record the music of prisoners at the maximum security prison in Zomba. Built in the 19th century and designed to hold 340 people, today it houses more than two thousand people. Plus, many of the guards also live on the grounds, just outside the walls.

Find the full list of nominees here:

The Grammys will be presented Feb. 15, 2016 at Staples Center.

City News Service contributed to this story