Nicki Minaj and J. Cole will face off against each other for the coveted Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Their success in 2011 is a testament to the growing power of rap music. Both artists present strong cases for why they should walk away with the award. Here is a break down of how they match up against each other.

Why Nicki Minaj Should Win: 

Nicki Minaj forced the entire music industry to pay attention to her soon after signing with Lil Wayne’s YMCMB imprint. Her quirky fashion sense makes her a fascinating hybrid of Lil Kim, Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper. She also turned in memorable guest appearances on songs by Kanye West, Drake and Lil Wayne. Her hit single, “Moment for Life” proved that should could add a bit of depth to her music.

Why Nicki Minaj Shouldn’t Win:

Although “Moment for Life” and “Super Bass” became hit singles, Nicki Minaj’s debut lacked the overall focus that would have made it a great album. Besides the few singles that got major radio play, Pink Friday was rather forgettable.

Why J. Cole Should Win:

J. Cole is the first Jay-Z protégé to have major success in hip-hop (Memphis Bleek never panned out, Beanie Sigel didn’t reach his full potential and Kanye West was actually signed by Dame Dash). His mixtapes, Friday Night Lights and Any Given Sunday were better than many official albums. J. Cole’s knack for telling compelling stories made his debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story one of the best rap albums of 2011.

Why J. Cole Shouldn’t Win:

J. Cole’s buzz died weeks after his album hit the charts in September. The lack of an infectious hit single prevented him from maintaining his top spot on the charts as Wale and Drake released albums in the following months.

Other artists who will compete for Best New Artist: The Band Perry, Bon Iver and Skillrex.

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A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.