Holy shit. We think we speak for everyone when we say that was our reaction when Kendrick Lamar took the stage at the Grammys tonight. The rapper, whose 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly was nominated for 11 Grammys (and won 5 at the time of his performance) made quite a statement when he shuffled on stage as the chained head of a prison gang, in uniform and surrounded by jail cells. Silently, Lamar walked up to the mike and quietly rattled his chains. Then, he jolted into action with these powerful lyrics from "The Blacker The Berry":
"I'm the biggest hypocrite of 2015/I'm the biggest hypocrite of 2015 /Once I finish this witnesses will convey/ Just what I mean been feeling this way/ Since I was 16 came to my senses/You never liked us anyway your friendship I meant it/ I'm African-American I'm African/ I'm black as the moon heritage of a small village/ Pardon my residence came from the bottom of mankind/ My hair is nappy my big my nose is round and wide/ You hate me don't you? You hate my people/ Your plan is to terminate my culture..."
As a bonfire blazed onstage, Lamar continued his passionate rendition, transitioning into "Alright."
The show-stopping performance ended with a fade-out, leaving Lamar outlined against a map of Africa emblazoned with one word: "Compton" (Lamar's hometown). Lamar's performance comes in the wake of the recent resurgence of #OscarsSoWhite, which sparked a national conversation over diversity in Hollywood, and Beyoncé's powerful message about black culture in America in her latest single, "Formation," released on the eve of the Super Bowl.
It didn't take long for social media to light up with reactions to Lamar's politically-charged interpretation. Taraji P. Henson tweeted: "Sooooooo powerful and moving and on time and TRUTHFUL AND FEARLESS @kendricklamar again so proud!!! #GRAMMYs #WeGonBeAlright," while Snoop Dogg added: "salute king."
Sooooooo powerful and moving and on time and TRUTHFUL AND FEARLESS @kendricklamar again so proud!!! #GRAMMYs #WeGonBeAlright ??— Taraji P. Henson (@TherealTaraji) February 16, 2016
.@kendricklamar on fire! ??? #GRAMMYs pic.twitter.com/ITZV526YK2— The GRAMMYs (@TheGRAMMYs) February 16, 2016
@kendricklamar slay that stage with that flow, that message and production. #GRAMMYs— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) February 16, 2016
Lamar already won the award for Best Rap Album. But with this performance, he may well have won the Grammys as well.