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10 Biggest Grammy Snubs of All Time

Eminem Mariah Carey Kanye West
Larry Busacca / Alberto E. Rodriguez / Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images

The 2014 Grammy Awards are just around the corner. The “biggest night in music” honors the best of the best, but hip-hop and R&B have traditionally been overlooked by the awards the show. This year, artists like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West have multiple nominations and look to be front runners in several categories, but it wasn’t always like that. Back in 2002, Jay Z made headlines by boycotting the show. “I am boycotting the Grammys because too many major rap artists continue to be overlooked,” he said. “Rappers deserve more attention from the Grammy committee and from the whole world.”

He’s since changed his tune — the ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ creator will perform at the ceremony on Jan. 26. But we’re sure he still feels that the genre he’s helped move to the forefront has been snubbed more than a few times. Then there are the artists that deserved to win over those that received the actual honor. Check out 10 Biggest Grammy Snubs of All Time.


Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images
Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images
10

Amy Winehouse Loses Album of the Year to Herbie Hancock

2008
 
 

Amy Winehouse won over fans and critics alike with her breakthrough LP, 'Back to Black,' and it seemed that the British beauty with the sultry voice would take home Album of the Year too in 2008. Nope. Grammy favorite and pianist Herbie Hancock won the award for his 'River: The Joni Letters,' a cover album dedicated to Joni Mitchell.

 
Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images
Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images
9

Drake Loses Best New Artist to Esperanza Spaulding

2011
 
 

Drake quickly ascended from the Canadian rapper appearing on blogs here and there to a bona fide superstar in 2011. With his 'So Far Gone' EP, which featured hits like 'Best I Ever Had' and 'I'm Goin' In,' he really made a "mixtape that sounded like an album" and he scored a major cosign from Lil Wayne in the process. Still, Drake's unique emo-rap wasn't enough to snag him the Best New Artist Grammy that year. Instead, relative unknown jazz artist Esperanza Spaulding took home the big honor, leaving many scratching their heads.

 
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Facebook
8

Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Hypnotize' Loses Best Rap Song to Will Smith's 'Men in Black'

1998
 
 

When the Grammys do honor rap, they tend to err on the side of safe versus culturally relevant. Case in point: In 1998, Will Smith won Best Rap Song for 'Men in Black' over the Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Hypnotize.' Yes, instead of honoring the late, legendary rapper, the Grammys chose to honor a song about fighting space aliens in a movie. Another snub during this year also included Missy Elliott's groundbreaking, freaky track 'Supa Dupa Fly.'

 
Scott Gries, Getty Images
Scott Gries, Getty Images
7

TLC's 'Creep' & 'Red Light Special' Lose Best R&B Song to Stevie Wonder's 'For Your Love'

1996
 
 

Rap isn't the only genre to fall victim to generational problems at the Grammys. In 1996, TLC was nominated twice in the Best R&B Song category for 'Creep' and 'Red Light Special.' Instead of voting for the chart-topping, girl power group, Grammy voters awarded Stevie Wonder, who's been winning Grammys since 1973. While we're fans of the veteran songwriter and esteemed singer, there's no denying 'Creep,' which climbed to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart, deserved the accolade. However, the ladies did win in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals category that year.

 
Scott Gries, Getty Images
Scott Gries, Getty Images
6

Public Enemy Lose Best Rap Performance by Solo or Group to Will Smith & Jazzy Jeff

1991
 
 

When Public Enemy lost the Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 1991, to Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff, rap purists everywhere cried foul. That same year, the group behind 'Fear of a Black Planet' boycotted the awards since the honor wasn't even televised on the Grammy telecast.

 
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
5

Luther Vandross' 'Here and Now' Loses Best R&B Song to MC Hammer's 'U Cant Touch This'

1991
 
 

Usually we root for rappers to win Grammys but even we can't make sense of why MC Hammer's 'U Can't Touch This' won the award for Best R&B Song over Luther Vandross' 'Hear & Now.' It doesn't make sense that a rap song by Hammer, who is clearly a rapper, was included in a category featuring nothing but singers. What would weddings have been in the '90s (or now) without 'Here and Now'? We don't want to know.

 
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images
4

Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men's 'One Sweet Day' Loses Best Pop Collaboration to the Chieftains & Van Morrison's 'Have I Told You Lately'

1996
 
 

Try to keep a dry eye while listening to Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's 'One Sweet Day.' It's hard to do. The track about losing a loved one was a staple for every sad moment in the '90s and topped the charts for a record-breaking 16 consecutive weeks from Dec. 2, 1995, to March 16, 1996. Despite the overwhelming success, the Chieftains' cover of Van Morrison's 'Have I Told You Lately' won the award.

 
Tupac Shakur
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images
3

Tupac's 'Dear Mama' Loses Best Rap Solo Performance to Coolio's 'Gangsta’s Paradise'

1996
 
 

During his legendary career, Tupac's 'Dear Mama' was one of his most poignant and touching songs. Despite the heartfelt message there, the Grammys awarded Best Rap Solo Performance to Coolio, yes Coolio, for his 'Gangsta's Paradise.' Even back in 1996, we all knew the song from the 'Dangerous Minds' soundtrack was not going to be remembered much after the movie.

 
Eminem
Jeff Kravitz, Getty Images
2

Eminem Loses Album of the Year to Steely Dan

2001
 
 

Eminem represented the perfect blend of hip-hop lyricism and mainstream pop star when he burst onto the scene with his 'The Marshall Mathers LP.' Fueled by songs like 'The Real Slim Shady,' the album sold more than 1.76 million copies domestically in its first week, making it the fastest-selling studio album by any solo artist in American music history. The Grammy voters opted to celebrate '70s rockers Steely Dan instead with Album of the Year in 2001.

 
Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images
Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images
1

Kanye West Loses Best New Artist to Maroon 5

2004
 
 

Kanye West seemed like a shoo-in for the Best New Artist win in 2004. His debut effort, 'College Dropout,' was hailed as a modern classic, melding soul samples with introspective, witty verses and he had already clocked in production work with the likes of Jay Z. Pretty good for a kid from Chicago. Somehow, Maroon 5's pretty boy emo sound was a bigger hit with Grammy voters and the band bested the producer-rapper. Since then, 'Ye has had a bone to pick with the awards. This year, he blasted the Grammys for ignoring his 'Yeezus' album. “‘Yeezus’ is the top one or two album on every single list,” he told the crowd during a concert stop on tour. “But only gets two nominations from the Grammys. What are they trying to say?” Preach!

 

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