Taylor Swift, a perennial favorite tied for second with another rapper, Canadian The Weeknd. Each had seven nominations.
The Weeknd was singled out for his break-out album Beauty Behind the Madness and single “Can’t Feel My Face.”
Swift is also up for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for her tune “Blank Space.”
Kanye West was the last rapper to score big. He received seven nominations in 2011, although he was snubbed for Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
In contrast, Lamar, 28, is also up for Record of the Year for his song “Alright.” In addition he shares a nomination with Swift for Best Pop Duo and Best Music Video for her hit “Bad Blood.”
He was also nominated for Album of the Year in 2013.
To Pimp a Butterfly is his third studio album. It reached No. 1 in both the United States and Great Britain. It’s noted for its fusion of funk, jazz and poetry.
For Album of the Year, his set is up against Swift’s 1989, The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness,. Country singer Chris Stapleton is also in the running for Traveller and Alabama Shakes rounds out the category for Sand & Color.
In another closely watched category, Meghan Trainor has been nominated for Best New Artist along with country singer Sam Hunt, Tori Kelly and two international artists, UK singer, songwriter James Bay, and Australian Courtney Barnett.
Meanwhile, Rihanna was a shocking omission in this year’s Grammy nominations, after releasing two hit singles, “Bitch Better Have My Money” and “FourFiveSeconds.” The latter was a moving ballad featuring West and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.
Among other significant snubs, Nick Jonas was aced out of a nomination for his single “Jealous,” and his self-titled debut solo album.
Madonna’s album Rebel Heart, a critical and commercial success also failed to land a nomination. She was joined by Lana Del Rey. Her album, Honeymoon was bypassed for a Grammy nod.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awards Grammys in 78 categories covering almost every facet of music production. Winners are picked by the group’s 13,000 voting members.
Traditionally, the nominees tend to be older, more mainstream artists, but this year showed a surprising departure from the norm. Whether it signals that rap is becoming more mainstream is still an open question.
Still, Kedrick Lamar’s nominations put him in a rare club of rappers.
The Grammys will be awarded in Los Angeles on Feb. 15.