The Grammys hadn't even started and already four of the five hip-hop awards had been handed out. Jay-Z grabbed two of them -- Best Rap Solo Performance for "D.O.A." and Best Rap Song for "Run This Town" with Rihanna and Kanye West. The latter added a second award -- and the only one presented live on the broadcast, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration -- to bring Jigga's total to three for the night.
Once presenters Mos Def and Placido Domingo figured out how to open the envelope and read "Run This Town," Rihanna and Jay-Z stepped to the stage and thanked the absent "genius that is Kanye West" in a speech kept brief.
Soon after, Wyclef Jean was given a solo spotlight to make his pitch for continued Haiti support.Eminem's Relapse won Best Rap Album honors, which comes as no surprise to us, but is still a disappointment. The Grammys could have picked up some more credibility by not making the obvious choice. (Q-Tip's The Renaissance would have received my vote.) Em's "Crack A Bottle" collaboration with Dr. Dre and 50 Cent also won Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group, putting our first-ever predictions at 2-for-5. (We apparently overestimated the influence of Justin Timberlake on Grammy voters.)
One of the early highlights was a Beyonce medley that included an angry performance of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know." Did Jay-Z do something we don't know about? Jay did win the face off with B in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category, as his Kanye collabo beat hers. In fact, West had a 60 percent chance of winning, lending a hand to three of the five nominees.
In a bizarre twist, what was presented by Robert Downey Jr. as an opera performance quickly turned into a Jamie Foxx set that grew to include T-Pain, Doug E. Fresh and Slash. Foxx closed with "I apologize for the auto-tune Jay-Z." Eminem, Drake and Lil' Wayne also performed.
Beyonce finished with a record six trophies for a female artist, beating the five she, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys and others had won at previous shows.