LOS ANGELES - Though the rap committee at the Grammys almost ousted Macklemore & Ryan Lewis from its categories, the breakthrough act won three rap Grammys in early awards announced today.
The duo's debut, "The Heist," won best rap album, beating efforts from Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z, Kanye West and Drake. Their hit song "Thrift Shop" won best rap song and rap/sung performance.
Macklemore & Lewis are also nominated for album and song of the year. A source told the Associated Press that the rap committee rejected the duo, but that was later overruled by the general Grammy committee.
Justin Timberlake won two awards, including best R&B song.
Engineer Bob Ludwig has two wins, including one for best engineered album, non-classical, for his work on Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories." Gospel singer Tye Tribett also won two awards, and Michael Buble won his fourth best traditional pop vocal album Grammy.
Pharrell Williams, Imagine Dragons and Daft Punk were also early winners.
British singer Adele won best song written for visual media for "Skyfall," which also won an Oscar and Golden Globe last year.
Cyndi Lauper, who won best musical theater album for "Kinky Boots," announced some of the early awards during the pre-telecast ceremony, jokingly giving acceptance speeches for the artists who were not present. The red carpet opened with a crush of people ahead of the show, as most of the nominees in the less mainstream categories vyed for camera time before the big stars flooded in.
The Grammys begin at 8 p.m.
Before taking the award for best rap album, Macklemore said he believed Kendrick Lamar deserved the Grammy, but if he and his producer took it, he'd feel justified.
"I think that we made a great album that pushed the genre of hip-hop," the 30-year-old said. "I think that hip-hop can be at times resistant to change and when you see two white dudes from Seattle, Washington, rapping about gay marriage, it's like, Hold up, this isn't hip-hop,' when in actuality it is. Hip-hop has always been about expansion, about pushing the genre, about challenging the listener."
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, like Lamar, are nominated for seven trophies today, and the performers will compete in five of the same categories. The rap duo is up for best new artist, along with Lamar, and their gay acceptance hit, "Same Love," is nominated for song of the year.
The year marks a high note for hip-hop since album of the year and best new artist both feature two rap acts. OutKast and Lauryn Hill are the only two rap performers to win the coveted album of the year; Hill and Arrested Development are the only rap-based stars to take home best new artist.
A rapper has never won song or record of the year.
Jay Z, keeping up the decade-long Grammy tradition of rappers leading in nominations, is the night's front-runner with nine, including nods for best rap album, rap song and rap performance. He's nominated twice for best rap/sung collaboration with "Part II (On the Run)" featuring Beyonce and "Holy Grail" with Justin Timberlake, whose comeback album earned him seven nominations, but none in the major categories.
Performers tonight include Metallica, Willie Nelson, Warren native Dave Grohl and Nine Inch Nails. Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, who has two nominations, will sing separately on the telecast.
"I love it because you see a lot of people that you'll never see anywhere else and you'll see a lot of old friends," Starr said.