It’s conventional for an artist to open the Grammy Awards with a medley, but Kendrick Lamar isn’t a conventional artist, and in 2018 opted for something much more post-modern and scatter-firing.
Surrounded by faceless troops and backed by the American flag, he diced up his latest album DAMN., performing segments of verses from it over the wrong songs before abruptly switching into different ones.
“THIS IS A SATIRE BY KENDRICK LAMAR,” the screen behind him read at one point, the performance featuring guest vocals from U2 and commentary from Dave Chappelle, who would interrupt songs to say things like: “I just wanted to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America, is being an honest black man in America. Sorry for the interruption. Please continue.”
Along the way, we heard an unexpected tracklist, which included bursts of “XXX”, “LUST”, “DNA”, “HUMBLE”, “King’s Dead” and Rich the Kid song “New Freezer”.
The performance blew both audience members and viewers away, with Run the Jewels’ El-P tweeting: “Kendrick Lamar is a national treasure”.
Kendrick picked up four awards at the ceremony, but was beaten in every major category by Bruno Mars, as the winners list once again failed to reflect the culture in America.