Guide to the Grammys: 4 Things You Need to Know About Music’s Big Night

Will Kendrick Lamar make history? What are the must-see performances? We’ve got you covered.

Kendrick Lamar 
Kendrick Lamar  Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The 58th annual Grammy Awards may be airing on Monday for the first time instead of Sunday, but there’ll be some things that look familiar. LL Cool J will host for the fifth straight time, and the show will continue its tradition of being a music festival masquerading as an awards show, focusing on the performances and a few key awards, while relegating the majority of its 83 awards to a pretelecast ceremony.

With an expected run time of three-and-a-half hours, there will be a lot to take in, but we’re here to help you make it through the night. Be sure to follow The Root on Twitter, where we’ll be live-tweeting the show and all the big moments, and on Instagram, where we’ll be posting photos from the red carpet.

Meanwhile, here are the storylines, the categories and the performances you need to know:

1. Will Kendrick Lamar Make History or Will He Get Swift-Boated?

Kendrick Lamar, who leads all with 11 nominations—one shy of Michael Jackson’s record 12 nods for Thriller­—is a poised for a big night and the Compton, Calif., rapper can’t wait for it, telling Billboard, “I want to win them all.”

Well, K-Dot’s chances of winning them all are pretty much zero since he’s nominated twice in two categories. But the desire is understandable given what happen in 2014. That year he was nominated for seven Grammys and didn’t win a single one. Not only that, but he had to watch white rapper Macklemore, who is bad at his job, walk away with Best New Artist, Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance, all awards Lamar was up for. Then he had to put up with Macklemore’s “apology text,”­ which Macklemore posted on Instagram, apparently to show the world that he understood how much his white privilege played a role in his wins.

But this year, with nary a Macklemore nomination in sight, this could be a historic night for Lamar.

Except … Taylor Swift. The two artists are competing in two of the major categories—Album of the Year and Song of the Year. Lamar would be the first hip-hop artist to win Album of the Year since Outkast’s 2004 Speakerboxx/The Love Below, and the first rap artist ever to win Song of the Year. The question is, will the Recording Academy’s 13,000 voting members—some of whom may have never heard a single second of Lamar’s album but couldn’t escape the earworms produced by the pop starlet’s hit-making factory—give the rapper enough votes to win? We’ll have to wait and see. (Side note: The two are also nominated together for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video for Swift’s “Bad Blood.”)

2. Categories to Watch

Album of the Year: Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes; To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar; Traveller, Chris Stapleton; 1989, Taylor Swift; Beauty Behind the Madness, the Weeknd.