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.
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."