The 2012 Grammy nominations have been announced, and two hip-hop artists are currently in the running to take home a trophy for Best New Artist. Both Nicki Minaj and J. Cole have been nominated in the category, after releasing their debut albums—Pink Friday and Cole World: The Sideline Story—in the past year. Drake earned a spot in the category last time around, making this the second year in a row that a Young Money artist has received the honor.
Nicki Minaj has had a monster year, releasing her debut album Pink Friday back in November 2010, but the Barbie queen was in demand even before dropping her LP. In addition to performing at Jay-Z and Eminem’s sold out Yankee Stadium concert last September, she’s appeared on several notable features, including “Monster” from Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. After two wins at the recent American Music Awards, Nicki announced that her sophomore album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded will debut on February 14, just two days after the 2012 Grammys air date.
Roc Nation signee J. Cole has been steadily building his buzz, releasing several mixtapes before finally dropping his official album Cole World: The Sideline Story in September. The album debuted at no. 1 on the charts, with 218,000 copies in first week sales, and the North Carolina rapper has been busy on tour promoting the project since then.
Cole and Nicki will go up against Bon Iver, Skrillex and The Band Perry for Best New Artist. Judging from last year’s awards show, when jazz artist Esperanza Spalding beat out Justin Bieber for the top prize, it’s difficult to make any predictions here.