Kendrick Lamar took on the Grammy stage shackled in chains in a prison setup. Known for his poignant poetic flows, the 2016, 11-time Grammy nominated Compton Rapper, gave one of the most powerful, stirring, goose pump-filled performances that I have seen during an awards show in a long time.
Just when I thought multi-platinum recording artist Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance of Formation, paying homage to the Black Panthers, created the artistic display seen around the nation, here comes Kendrick Lamar to top it off with this performance. I’m glad that I had my television turned on to witness this epic, artistic, socially conscious charged presentation by Kendrick Lamar.
With an elaborated stage setup of a prison, Kendrick Lamar started his performance walking up into the microphone in a prison shirt, in chains and a painted on black eye with a group of incarcerated black men behind him and surrounding him in prison cells. He blared out the first line of his To Pimp a Butterfly melody, “I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2016″. He and the rest of the prisoners eventually broke out of their chains into what appeared to be African dance tribute; he ended his charged performance underneath the spotlight, in front of a white picture of Africa with the word “Compton” written inside of it singing lyrics to an untitled track.
In a Billboard interview, Grammy Producer Ken Ehrlich shared the following statement in regards to what to expect during Kendrick Lamar’s performance:
Controversial… I’m not sure that’s the right word…Certainly it’s provocative… In this case, Kendrick came to us and said that we live in a time where these issues confront us every day and that it’s important that they be given a public forum, and he would like to use his x number of minutes to create a great performance that is consistent with his this year. It is overtly political and it is overtly provocative, and I think if nothing else it’s going to give people something to think about and talk about.
Why did I like Kendrick Lamar’s performance? Because it was beyond unapologetically black, it was beyond real and in your face with some of the issues that are currently taking place in our communities, issues such as black incarceration and police brutality, to name a few. It was so in your face, you could not avoid making eye contact with raw reality. At times, you may have felt a little uncomfortable. The performance sent chills up my spine and almost had me into tears. I could feel the pain and the hurt in the performance but at the same time I could feel the resilience and the pride of a people. It was a brilliant display of artistry and social awareness. If you have not been waken after this performance, then you’ll probably will never wake up.
It’s a beautiful and powerful thing when artist use their major platforms to make an impact, point a light to some of our politically and social woes in our community. They can at times become the voice of the voiceless or become the voice of those who though have a voice don’t even know what to say.
This performance will be talked about for weeks. Thank you Kendrick Lamar for being bold enough to use such a major platform to bring light into dire situations. As long as we continue to speak truth to power, we’re going to be all right.