[Editor’s note: It’s been a big weekend: Ariana Grande dropped her second album of the year and we’re dropping some fire content from one of your fellow Tar Heels.

The Grammy Awards are airing this Sunday, Feb. 9 (Did you know?: A retired Carolina professor has been nominated for two Grammys!) and the competition has never been tougher, with artists such as Lady Gaga, Drake and the late Mac Miller. Read on to hear from Carolina Social Influencer and UNC senior Jemal Abdulhadi (also known as @J_Dasani on Instagram) on who he thinks will take home the trophies.]


Category: Record Of The Year

  • “This Is America” — Childish Gambino
  • “God’s Plan” — Drake
  • “I Like It” — Cardi B
  • “The Middle” — Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey
  • “Shallow” — Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
  • “All the Stars” — SZA and Kendrick Lamar
  • “Rockstar” — Post Malone feat. 21 Savage
  • “The Joke” — Brandi Carlile

Jemal’s pick: “God’s Plan” — Drake

Record of the Year will undoubtedly go to Drake, Boi-1Da and the rest of the production team for “God’s Plan.” With “God’s Plan” topping charts in 14 countries and breaking streaming records on Apple and Spotify, it’s hard to deny the song Record of the Year. After a leak early in 2018, crazy hype was built around the track allowing for the release to reaffirm Drake’s presence and influence in hip-hop and the music industry. The most significant part of “God’s Plan” winning is that this’ll be the first time a hip-hop track wins Record of the Year — and even if Aubrey can’t secure this one, it’s safe to say there are other hip-hop contenders that have a strong chance at capturing the category.

Runner Up: “I Like It” — Cardi B

Honorable Mention: “Shallow” — Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper


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Category: Album Of The Year

  • H.E.R. — H.E.R.
  • By the Way, I Forgive You — Brandi Carlile
  • Scorpion — Drake
  • Black Panther: The Album Various Artists
  • Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves
  • Beerbongs & Bentleys — Post Malone
  • Invasion of Privacy — Cardi B
  • Dirty Computer — Janelle Monáe

Jemal’s pick: “Invasion of Privacy” — Cardi B

Cardi B should be in a position to win Album of the Year for her “Invasion of Privacy.” In just the first week of the album’s release, Cardi B sold more than 235,000 copies — less than half digital — allowing her to cruise into the Billboard charts. Cardi B has been an enjoyable persona and role model for many in music, and the virality and reception of her music is a strong indicator that the project deserves to be album of the year.

Runner Up: “Beerbongs & Bentleys” — Post Malone

Honorable Mention: “Scorpion” — Drake

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Category: Song Of The Year

  • “All the Stars” — Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Al Shuckburgh, Mark Spears and Anthony Tiffith
  • “Boo’d Up” — Larrance Dopson, Joelle James, Ella Mai and Dijon McFarlane
  • “God’s Plan” — Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Brock Korsan, Ron LaTour, Matthew Samuels and Noah Shebib
  • “In My Blood” — Shawn Mendes, Teddy Geiger, Scott Harris and Geoffrey Warburton
  • “The Joke” — Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth
  • “The Middle” — Sarah Aarons, Jordan K. Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax, Kyle Trewartha, Michael Trewartha and Zedd
  • “Shallow” — Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt
  • “This Is America” — Donald Glover, Ludwig Goransson and Jeffery Lamar Williams

Jemal’s pick: “Boo’d Up” — Ellai Mai

It’s an easy argument that Drake’s “God’s Plan” has a fair chance of winning this category, potentially alongside Record of the Year, but since Song of the Year has a focus on songwriting, I think the top contender is Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up.” Ellai Mai had an incredible year and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B and peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 with “Boo’d Up” serving as the driver of the success she’s seen.

Runner Up: “Shallow” — Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper

Honorable Mention: “All the Stars” — Kendrick Lamar, SZA

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Category: Best Rap Album

  • Swimming — Mac Miller
  • Invasion of Privacy — Cardi B
  • Victory Lap — Nipsey Hussle
  • Daytona — Pusha T
  • Astroworld — Travis Scott

Jemal’s pick: “Swimming” — Mac Miller

The posthumous nomination of “Swimming” is Mac Miller’s first, and I don’t think there’s a question he’ll be honored with Best Rap Album. “Swimming” is one of his greatest and most cohesive projects, giving vulnerability to his listeners and allowing us to feel his emotions and headspace through the album. Mac was undoubtedly one of the greatest hip-hop artists in the music industry and added significant value as well as a shift in sound and aura within the genre, so I’ll be shocked if “Swimming” isn’t selected for Best Rap Album.

Runner Up: “Victory Lap” — Nipsey Hussle

Honorable Mention: “Astroworld” — Travis Scott

Image from Rolling Stone.


Category: Best Rap Song

  • God’s Plan — Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Brock Korsan, Ron LaTour, Matthew Samuels and Noah Shebib, songwriters (Drake)
  • King’s Dead — Kendrick Duckworth, Samuel Gloade, James Litherland, Johnny McKinzie, Axel Morgan, Mark Spears, Travis Walton, Nayvadius Wilburn and Michael Williams II, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future and James Blake)
  • Lucky you — R. Fraser, G. Lucas, M. Mathers, M. Samuels and J. Sweet, songwriters (Eminem featuring Joyner Lucas)
  • Sicko Mode — Khalif Brown, Rogét Chahayed, BryTavious Chambers, Mike Dean, Mirsad Dervic, Kevin Gomringer, Tim Gomringer, Aubrey Graham, Chauncey Hollis, Jacques Webster, Ozan Yildirim and Cydel Young, songwriters (Travis Scott, Drake, Big Hawk and Swae Lee)
  • Win — K. Duckworth, A. Hernandez, J. McKinzie, M. Samuels & C. Thompson, songwriters (Jay Rock)

Jemal’s pick: “Sicko Mode” — Travis Scott, Drake, Swae Lee

Like most music listeners, I’m pretty worn out hearing “Sicko Mode” everywhere I go by now. But unlike many songs that go mainstream, this one undoubtedly deserved to be played at the function. The song feels like a roller coaster, with Drake’s smooth intro that transitions into a head bopping change in production while giving the baton to Travis Scott and Swae Lee to turn the song into a melodic banger. “Sicko Mode” peaked on Billboard charts, reached the No. 1 spot and didn’t waiver for the entirety of the end of 2018. Convince me Best Rap Song isn’t going to “Sicko Mode.”

Runner Up: “Win” — Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar

Honorable Mention: “God’s Plan” — Drake

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Category: Best Pop Vocal Album

  • Camila — Camila Cabello
  • Sweetener — Ariana Grande
  • Reputation — Taylor Swift
  • Shawn Mendes — Shawn Mendes
  • Beautiful — Trauma Pink
  • Meaning of Life — Kelly Clarkson

Jemal’s pick: “Sweetener” — Ariana Grande

I think it’s safe to project Ariana Grande’s “Sweetener” album for this category. Despite controversy around her decision to not make an appearance at the Grammys this Sunday, Grande is at the peak of her career, her 15-track project was melodically diverse and featured artists like Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliot. Her surprise album that just dropped this weekend, “Thank You, Next” is perfect timing for voters to have her fresh in their minds when selecting an artist for best pop album. Ariana Grande has been shifting what it means to be an artist and has hurdled over numerous challenges — both musically and personally — yet has used these to motivate her to be one of the greatest pop acts of our generation.

Runner Up: “Camila” — Camila Cabello

Honorable Mention: “Shawn Mendes” — Shawn Mendes

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Category: Best R&B Song

  • “Feels Like Summer” — Childish Gambino
  • “Boo’d Up” — Ella Mai
  • “Come Through and Chill” — Miguel feat. J. Cole and Salaam Remi
  • “Focus” — H.E.R.
  • “Long as I Live” — Toni Braxton

Jemal’s pick: “Come Through and Chill” — Miguel, J. Cole, Salaam Remi

Although this one might be a toss up, there’s a strong argument to be made for “Come Through and Chill” to take Best R&B Song. The cohesive production and balance of lyricism, bounce and melody in the vocal combination of Miguel, J. Cole and Salaam made the song a milestone for Miguel late in 2017, with it really taking off early 2018.

Runner Up: “Feels Like Summer” — Childish Gambino

Honorable Mention: “Boo’d Up” — Ella Mai

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Category: Best Music Video

Award to the artist, video director, and video producer.

  • Apes*** — The Carters
    Ricky Saiz, video director; Mélodie Buchris, Natan Schottenfels and Erinn Williams, video producer
  • This is America — Childish Gambino
    Hiro Murai, video director; Ibra Ake, Jason Cole and Fam Rothstein, video producers
  • I’m Not Racist — Joyner Lucas
    Joyner Lucas & Ben Proulx, video directors; Joyner Lucas, video producer
  • Pynk — Janelle Monáe
    Emma Westenberg, video director; Justin Benoliel and Whitney Jackson, video producers
  • Mumbo Jumbo — Tierra Whack
    Marco Prestini, video director; Sara Nassim, video producer

Jemal’s pick: “This is America” — Childish Gambino, Hiro Murai

The “This is America” official music video by Childish Gambino, directed by the creative legend Hiro Murai, deserves to win Best Music Video. The level of meaning, storytelling and symbolism in the video is incredible and fostered productive conversation around race and the black experience in America. With almost 500 million views on YouTube, it’s also objectively one of the most popular music videos of 2018.

Runner Up: “Apes***” — The Carters

Honorable Mention: “Mumbo Jumbo” — Tierra Whack

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Want to learn more about the Tar Heels going to the Grammys? Click here and here!

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