Kendrick Lamar Gave the Grammys Performance Everyone Needed to See
There were a lot of notable performances at this year’s Grammy Awards. Taylor Swift opened the show with a breathtaking rendition of “Out of the Woods;” Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, John Legend, Luke Bryan, Tyrese, and Lionel Richie himself gave a powerful Lionel Richie tribute; and Adele returned to the Grammys and gave it her all despite some sound issues. But the most noteworthy and most important performance at the awards was Kendrick Lamar’s theatrical production of “Alright” and “The Blacker the Berry” from his album To Pimp a Butterfly. But it wasn’t the songs themselves that took everyone’s breath away. It was what he did with them. Lamar’s performance was teased as “controversial” when it was introduced by host LL Cool J, but that doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Lamar began the performance by walking on stage in literal chains and rapped about the oppression of black people. Powerful lyrics included, “Came from the bottom of mankind/My hair is nappy/My dick is big/My nose is rounded and wide/You hate me don’t you/You hate my people/Your plan is to terminate my culture.” The performance comes at a time of heightened racial tensions in this century and is a much needed reminder that there is still much to be done toward racial equality. Even though CBS censored some of the lyrics, such as “we hate po po,” the message still came across loud and clear. The last 30 seconds were particularly powerful with the different camera angles switching constantly, making it appear as if there is more than just one man saying these words. If that weren’t enough, he finally closed with a giant projection of Compton overlaid on an image of Africa lighting up in the background. Lamar didn’t win the Grammy for Album of Year (that went to Swift), but it doesn’t really matter because he basically won the entire Grammy’s anyway.
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