After grabbing up five of his 11 Grammy nominations on Monday night (Feb. 15), Kendrick Lamar delivered rousing renditions of “The Blacker The Berry” and “Alright” off his Grammy-nominated sophomore studio effort To Pimp a Butterfly.
Following an intro from actor Don Cheadle, the Compton rapper marched out onstage in chains with a backdrop imitating a prison for “The Blacker The Berry” before creating a bonfire for “Alright” and wrapping his set with an illuminated image of his native city Compton in the outline of Africa.
In the untitled freestyle finale, Lamar references Feb. 26, the date of Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012. “On February twenty sixth I lost my life too / It’s like I’m here in a dark dream / Man hear screams recorded / Say that it sounds distorted but they know who it was,” he rapped.
Prior to showtime, Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich teased the performance following LL Cool J dubbing the set “controversial.”
“Controversial… I’m not sure that’s the right word. Certainly it’s provocative,” he said. “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.”
The recent Billboard cover star said that his goal was to take home every trophy he was nominated for. “I want to win them all,” the Compton rapper said. “It’s bigger than me. When we think about the Grammys, only Lauryn Hill and Outkast have won album of the year. This would be big for hip-hop culture at large.”