Kendrick Lamar Charges Up the GRAMMYs With Fiery Performance, Gets Standing Ovation

by Philiana Ng 7:53 PM PST, February 15, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

Kendrick Lamar enthralled the GRAMMYs with a statement performance of songs off his critically-acclaimed album, To Pimp a Butterfly.

The 28-year-old rapper opened his performance of "The Blacker the Berry" in chains while accompanied by his background dancers and band, some of whom were locked in cages.

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A racially-charged song, "The Blacker the Berry" mentions the February 2012 fatal shooting of 17-year-old black teen Trayvon Martin in one of the final lyrics. Later on during Lamar's performance, he freestyled, "February 26th, I lost my life too / 2012 set us back 400 years."

Then Lamar and his crew transitioned into his GRAMMY-winning song, "Alright," which won two gramophones earlier in the evening: Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.

Rapping in front of a large bonfire at the center of the stage, Lamar absolutely embraced the moment and was literally on fire.

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Lamar closed out his intense set with powerful new verses, against the backdrop of a map of Africa with "Compton" written across it, that got the star-studded Staples Center crowd -- including Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd and Andra Day -- on its feet for a much-deserved standing ovation.

The Daily Show host Trevor Noah sent out a tweet after the performance praising Lamar and blasting Kanye West.

"Kendrick is what Kanye would have been if the Kardashians didn't get him," Noah tweeted, adding the hashtag "#KingKendrick."

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It seemed every other celebrity was 100 percent on board with Lamar's GRAMMY moment, which might have been the night's most talked-about performance.

It's been a huge night for Lamar so far. Nominated for 11 GRAMMYs, he's already won five. In addition to the two aforementioned awards, Lamar took home Best Rap Album, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "These Walls" and Best Music Video for "Bad Blood" with Taylor Swift.