LOS ANGELES - "If we win that Grammy, then we deserve it as well. 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 Sunday, 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.
For top album, Macklemore & Lewis and Lamar's platinum-selling debuts, "The Heist" and "good kid, m.A.A.d city," will battle Taylor Swift's earth-shattering sales force "Red," Daft Punk's electronic adventure "Random Access Memories" and the surprise nominee -- "The Blessed Unrest" from the piano-playing Sara Bareilles.
Macklemore & Lewis' "Same Love" is up for song of the year alongside No. 1 Billboard hits, including Katy Perry's "Roar," Lorde's "Royals," ''Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars and Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason," featuring Nate Ruess of fun. Lorde and Mars' songs repeat in record of the year, and will be up against Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" and two songs that feature Pharrell Williams -- Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," which has sold 6.6 million tracks and is the biggest song of 2013.
Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, rising country singer Kacey Musgraves and British electronic act James Blake will compete with Lamar and Macklemore & Lewis for best new artist. Lorde, who was shut out of the category, has four nominations.
"Well, I've been waking up every morning and eating a lot of garlic," she said jokingly. "I have been, I don't know, just kind of chilling out, trying not to get too tired, because I feel like it's going to be a big day and night."
Lorde's "Royals" is nominated for best pop solo performance and her debut, "Pure Heroine," is up for pop vocal album, the award the 17-year-old hopes to bring home to New Zealand.
"Because it's about the album, which is this body of music that I've written," said Lorde, whose album will compete with efforts from Timberlake, Mars, Thicke and Lana Del Rey. "That being said, I'm still going to be proud of what I've done if I don't win a Grammy."
Lorde is just one of the top females to hit the Grammy stage Sunday: Beyonce, Madonna, Carole King, Pink, Swift and Perry will also perform at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The men are showing up, too, and performers include Metallica, Willie Nelson, 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.
LL Cool J will host the 56th annual Grammy Awards, to air live on CBS at 8 p.m. EDT.