The night was set up to be an amazing one for Kendrick Lamar. After losing Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance, and Best New Artist to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis just two years prior, it seemed the Recording Academy was out to set things right. Kendrick was nominated for 11 awards at this year's GRAMMY awards, the second most nominations for an artist in one night since Michael Jackson. Kendrick ended up winning 5 GRAMMYs, sweeping the rap categories and winning a GRAMMY for Best Music Video via Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" video. But, that wasn't the most impressive thing Kendrick did last night.
The internet was buzzing, wondering what Kendrick would do for his GRAMMY performance and he did not disappoint. He came out in chains, dressed in prison clothes, followed in a straight line by other prisoners. His band was surrounded by prison bars. The silence that ensued while he awkwardly wrapped his chains around the mic stand so he could hold the mic gave us just enough time to realize this would not be your average performance.
He began to perform "The Blacker The Berry," a song that aggressively addresses the white community but also delivers a strong message to the black community. He transitions into a fiery performance of "Alright" and then performs "Untitled 3." Kendrick has become a fantastic live performer, one that seems to save some of his most dynamic, in-your-face songs strictly for live performances; more specifically, live performances in front of a white audience.
This performance was full of tribal African imagery, African traditional dancing, and was the most powerful Kendrick performance I've ever seen. There was bravery in this performance, standing in front of a predominantly white organization and audience and using his platform to deliver this politically charged, heart-filled, black message. Between this performance and Beyoncé's "Formation" release and performance, it's clear the black community is not about to take society's treatment lying down.
All hail, King Kendrick.