(photo courtesy Island Def Jam)
The Recording Academy announced the nominees for the 2007 Grammy Awards Thursday. Over the past few years, the Grammy Awards have been a reflection of the Atlanta urban-music industry's commercial dominance, both here and around the world. That was particularly true in 2004, when OutKast won Album of the Year for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
But in 2007, that's not necessarily the case. In Atlanta, the big story has been the rise of the city's underground music scene, from well-documented bands such as Deerhunter and the Black Lips to innovative soul artists such as Janelle Monae, Donnie and Anthony David. Of course, none of those artists sold enough records to get the Recording Academy's attention.
However, the Grammy noms reflect a few important trends. Regardless of one's thoughts on his recent legal troubles, T.I. remains a tremendously talented and compelling artist. The ringtone rap phenomenon continues to generate stars such as Soulja Boy and the Shop Boyz. And with some of the industry's most talented songwriters, producers, musicians and engineers living here, studio veterans such as Aldrin "DJ Toomp" Davis, Christopher "Tricky " Stewart and Terius "the Dream" Nash are making key contributions to the biggest records.
Most of the major artists on the Atlanta front, including Ludacris, Usher, India.Arie, and OutKast didn't put out albums this year. As a result, behind-the-scenes players held down the major categories. DJ Toomp got several nominations for his assists on Kanye West's Graduation, including Album of the Year. Tricky Stewart earned Record of the Year and Song of the Year nominations for co-producing Rihanna's "Umbrella," and the Dream got a Song of the Year nomination, too, for writing the "Umbrella" lyrics.
In the lesser categories, some of the local (and part-time residents) acts who got nominations include Akon , Ne-Yo, Usher, Ann Nesby, India.Arie, Keyshia Cole, T.I., Shop Boyz, OutKast and Soulja Boy. Many of these were for guest vocals on hit songs, or for tracks that came out in 2006. For example, the nominating period is from Oct. 1, 2006, to Sept. 30, 2007. India.Arie's album Testimony, Vol. 1: Life & Relationship came out in the summer of 2006. However, since she released "Beautiful Flower" as a single during the nominating period, she gets a nod. Get it?
Most of this year's critically adored albums -- including works by Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen and Radiohead -- didn't appear in the major categories. Noteworthy exceptions were Kanye West, whose Graduation was nominated for Album of the Year, giving him an impressive three-for-three streak for his first three albums; and Amy Winehouse, whose second album Back to Black also earned a nod. The rest of the Album of the Year field consisted of Vince Gill's These Days, Foo Fighters' Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, and Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters. Those records drew reasonably good press -- Hancock's album in particular was widely acclaimed -- but not the sort of buzzy heat that has defined recent editions of the Grammys.
The Grammy Awards take place Feb. 10, 2008. For a complete list of nominations, click here.
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