Kendrick Lamar Takes Home 5 Grammys & Debuts New Music (Video)
In music’s biggest night, Hip-Hop came out as one of the big winners at this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony, thanks to the rousing success of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Only two years after what many considered a snub – when his good kid m.A.A.d. city lost the “Best Rap Album category” to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist – the Compton, California MC took home the coveted “Best Rap Album” award this time around, in addition to “Best Rap Performance” and “Best Rap Song” (“Alright”), “Best Rap Collaboration” with Bilal, Thundercat, and Anna Wise (“These Walls”), and “Best Music Video” (Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”). This equaled five awards won in total.
Upon winning “Best Rap Album,” Kendrick Lamar appeared on live television to thank his parents, God, and his girlfriend Whitney. Additionally, K-Dot thanked TDE and its founder namesake, Top Dawg for “Taking these kids outta the projects.” In a historic moment for Hip-Hop, the winner shouted out Ice Cube (who presented him with the award). “This for Hip-Hop,” Lamar said. “This for Snoop Dogg [and] Doggystyle, this for Illmatic, this for Nas. We will live forever, believe that.” Cube, Nas, and Snoop have never won Grammy awards.
Last year, Kendrick Lamar took home the “Best Rap Song” and “Best Rap Performance” honors for another To Pimp A Butterfly inclusion, “i.”
Furthering the evening’s significance, Lamar opted to perform music that made it impossible to ignore just how influential this young man has been to not only his own generation but to the entire sociopolitical landscape in today’s United States. Prior to the performance, Grammys host LL Cool J promised Lamar’s set would be “controversial,” and Heads were not let down. K-Dot began with a “Blacker The Berry” performance set in a cell-block. The MC came to microphone with his hands and feet shackled, as his jazzy backing band were in individual cells. The show featured a choreographed, rhythmic show, and glow-in-the-dark tribal paint. He repeatedly referenced Puff Daddy’s ad-libs from The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya?”
Then, crossing the stage into “Alright,” Lamar pounded his verse in front of a burning blaze. He was flanked by a tribal African drum group and dancers.
K-Dot then pivoted to new music. Perhaps his “Untitled 3,” the third song’s lyrics appear to focus on murder, hatred, and injustice. The song also references “HiiiPower,” one of Lamar’s 2011 hits, towards its end. In closing the driving performance, audiences were given a silhouette with an African continent image featuring “Compton” in the background.
Before tonight’s wins, Kendrick Lamar already made Grammy history, thanks to amassing an astounding 11 nominations, more than any other nominee this year and the most in Hip-Hop history. These accolades come on the heels of Lamar’s being given the key to his hometown in a historic ceremony hosted by the city’s mayor. These phenomenal Grammy wins join a litany of mold-breaking Hip-Hop moments including Lamar’s visit with President Obama at the White House, a genre-bending performance of To Pimp a Butterfly with the National Symphony Orchestra in D.C., the naming of a college scholarship after his now-seminal track “Alright,” and his receiving the Generational Icon Award from the State of California.