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Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift lead Grammy nods

Rapper Kendrick Lamar on Monday received a near-record number of Grammy Award nominations, with pop superstar Taylor Swift leading for the most prestigious categories.

Lamar – who has won wide critical acclaim for his politically charged album “To Pimp a Butterfly” – earned 11 nominations for the music industry’s biggest awards, the highest number in a single night other than Michael Jackson’s 12 nods in 1984 during the King of Pop’s “Thriller” days.

To Pimp a Butterfly,” Lamar’s first album in nearly three years, is unusually innovative for such a commercially anticipated album, with long sections of unaccompanied spoken word, frequent historical allusions and jazzy interludes.

GANGSTA RAP CAPITAL

Lamar – who hails from the gangsta rap capital of Compton in southern California but unlike many stars has had few personal controversies – examines the state of US race relations on “To Pimp a Butterfly,” with mockery of Washington politicians and explorations of his search for inner strength.

Lamar’s heavy haul comes in part due to his collaborations with other artists; he was also nominated for work with the DJ Flying Lotus and with Swift herself.

Lamar also won acclaim for his last album, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City,” and was nominated in seven categories in the 2014 awards.

But he did not win any awards, leading some critics to allege a double-standard against African American artists.

RISING STAR

Swift and The Weeknd, the rising Canadian R&B star, followed Lamar with seven nominations each for the Grammys, which will be announced at a gala ceremony in Los Angeles on February 15.

But Swift was ahead in the four most-watched categories, with nominations in all of them except Best New Artist.

She enjoyed nods for Album of the Year for “1989” — which marked her transition from country to pop — as well as Record of the Year and Song of the Year for her hit “Blank Space.”

1989” was the fastest-selling album in more than a decade although it was recently surpassed by “25,” the latest blockbuster by English ballad singer Adele.

25” was not eligible for the Grammys, which cover releases in the year to September 30.

To Pimp a Butterfly” and “Beauty Behind the Madness,” The Weeknd’s sophomore work, were also in contention for Album of the Year.

English singer and guitarist Ed Sheeran’s viral ballad “Thinking Out Loud” was also nominated for both Record of the Year, which considers overall performance, and Song of the Year, which recognizes songwriting.