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2 KCK talents are vying against each other for Grammy’s big prize: album of the year

What to know about KCK native Janelle Monae

Singer, actress and Kansas City, Kan., native Janelle Monáe recently came out as pansexual in a Rolling Stone interview. Here are a few more things to know about her.
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Singer, actress and Kansas City, Kan., native Janelle Monáe recently came out as pansexual in a Rolling Stone interview. Here are a few more things to know about her.

Kansas City, stand up and shout.

For the first time in history, two Kansas City, Kan., musicians will compete against each other for the biggest award in music.

The Recording Academy announced its nominees Friday for the 61st Grammy Awards, and KCK native Janelle Monae and KCK producer Jermaine “JWhiteDidIt” White are up for awards in multiple categories, including the biggest prize, album of the year.

As a recording artist, Monae, a Schlagle High School alumna, is nominated for her third studio album, “Dirty Computer.” She is also up for best music video for “PYNK,” wherein Monae debuted her now-infamous “vagina pants.” Surprisingly, she’s not competing in any R&B categories.

“My role as an artist is to push culture forward and to bring something new to the table, to be innovative in the space that I’m in,” Monae told The Star in October, ahead of her show at Starlight, her first KC concert in five years. “And if I can get a number 1 song or have cultural relevance by being authentically myself, then that is what is successful to me. That’s how I define my success.”

Anthony “J.White Did It” White, who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., is the producer behind rapper Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow," the No. 1 song in the country.

White, a music producer who was born in Leavenworth and lived in KCK, may be the biggest asset to Cardi B, rap’s newest superstar.

White is nominated alongside her in the album of the year category for his production on her debut album, “Invasion of Privacy,” and again for record of the year for his work as a producer on Cardi’s Latin-rap single “I Like It.”

They were nominated for a Grammy last year for the first single off that album, “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves),“ which, like “I Like It,” hit No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart.

“You’ve got to trust the formula,” White told the Star earlier this year, speaking on his affinity for hit-making with Cardi B. “I think it’s proven that when me and Cardi get together, we just make history.”

Joining Monae and White on the nominee list is Kansas City based blues musician Danielle Nicole, whose second album, “Cry No More,” was nominated in the best contemporary blues category. Nicole (born Danielle Schnebelen) got her start in Kansas City as part of Trampled Under Foot, a blues trio she started with her brothers, Nick and Kris Schnebelen.

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The Star spoke with Nicole earlier this year about “Cry No More,” which features a song written by soul/R&B legend Bill Withers, and Kansas City’s robust music scene.

“We’ve got a reputation for having a great sound. We were in Norway and people would ask us where we were from and they wouldn’t know where Missouri is but they definitely knew Kansas City and our history of music and our music reputation.”

This year, Kendrick Lamar is the top contender with eight nominations, including seven for his musical companion to the superhero movie “Black Panther.”

Following a year where women’s presence was barely felt, now women make up five of the eight nominees for album of the year. In addition to Monae and Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, H.E.R. and Brandi Carlile also are up for the top prize, along with Lamar, Drake and Post Malone.

The upcoming Grammys is the first where the academy extended its top four categories from five nominees to eight.

The “Panther” nomination would give Lamar a chance to win album of the year after losing three times. His most recently loss was in February when his critically acclaimed “DAMN” fell short to Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic,” though Lamar’s project would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for music two months later, making him the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prestigious honor.

Lamar’s Top 10 hit, the SZA-assisted “All the Stars,” is nominated for both record and song of the year (a songwriter’s award). Five other songs scored nominations in both categories, including Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born”; Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”; Drake’s “God’s Plan”; Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey’s “The Middle”; and Carlile’s “The Joke.”

Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up” and Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood” earned song of the year nods, while Post Malone’s “Rockstar” rounds out the nominees for record of the year.

Following Lamar, Drake – the year’s most successful artist – earned seven nominations.

Drake’s frequent collaborator, producer Boi-1Da, earned six nods, as did Carlile, who also scored nominations in the American Roots category.

Cardi B, Gaga, H.E.R., Morris, Gambino, producer Sounwave and engineer Mike Bozzi scored five nominations each.

Of the eight best new artist nominees, six are women, including H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Dua Lipa, Margo Price, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith. Rock band Greta Van Fleet and country singer Luke Combs also earned nominations.

Taylor Swift, a two-time album of the year winner, only earned one nomination – her “reputation” album is up best pop vocal album. Justin Timberlake, whose “Man of the Woods” albums flopped earlier this year, picked up a nod for “Say Something,” his collaboration with Chris Stapleton.

Beyonce and Jay-Z, billed as The Carters, as well Ariana Grande, didn’t earn any of the big nominations. The Carters earned two nods in the R&B category along with best music video, while Grande picked up two nods in pop.

Artists who were completely snubbed include Carrie Underwood, Sam Smith, Migos, Kane Brown, Nicki Minaj, XXXTentacion and Juice WRLD, whose “Lucid Dreams” was one of the year’s biggest hits.

Gaga, who earned acting and music Golden Globe nominations Thursday, picked up four Grammy nominations for “Shallow,” while “Joanne” is up for best pop solo performance. The soundtrack for “A Star Is Born” was released after Grammy eligibility, though “Shallow” was released in time and also earned Cooper two nominations.

Other famous faces outside of music to earn nominations include Tiffany Haddish and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, both up for best spoken word album. Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Fred Armisen, Jim Gaffigan and Patton Oswalt are up for best comedy album.

Mac Miller, who died in September, earned a nomination for best rap album with “Swimming.” Chris Cornell, who died last year, is up for best rock performance with “When Bad Does Good.”

Demi Lovato, who relapsed after six years of sobriety and was hospitalized for an overdose in July, earned a nomination for best pop duo/group performance for “Fall In Line,” her duet with Christina Aguilera.

The Grammy Awards will air on Feb. 10 on CBS.

Includes reporting by The Associated Press.
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