I’m pretty sure we all fiddled through our channels Monday night, going back and forth on the Grammys 2016. But, I guaranteed we put our remotes down when Kendrick Lamar performed the most powerful performance piece we’ve seen in a long time. With the perfect time of the month, Kendrick Lamar delivered a politically charged theatrical piece that influenced many as he broke free — literally.
The performance started off with Kendrick walking onto a prison stage set, dressed as an inmate along with men who trailed behind him in chains or cells. He rapped “The Blacker the Berry” and finished it by breaking free from the chains. He then staggered into African dancers as he started to spit “Alright”! The performance ended with Kendrick performing an untitled freestyle that referenced the death of Trayvon Martin’s date, as the camera chaotically captured him in various angles. Goosebumps decorated my body throughout the entire performance.
But of course with the good, comes the bad. As good as the album and performance were, Kendrick didn’t get the recognition we hoped. Apparently, a few viewers were confused by the performance. His fans clarified the confusion by highlighting the discomfort White America felt during and after the performance. On the other hand, White America was indeed unsettled as they tweeted about the “terrible racist” performance.
The producer of the Grammy Awards, Ken Enrlich released a statement, which in my opinion was to ease the negative comments and to cover up possible allegations of the awards being bias towards Hip Hop artists due to ratings.[It is rumored that most Award Shows limit Hip Hop awards/performances so they can maintain their ratings] “All forms of our contemporary music are rooted in African American culture; they’re rooted in black music, they’re rooted in the blues, they’re rooted in reggae… I don’t think we face the same set of criticisms that other artistic disciplines do.” Enrlich states. In other words, he acknowledges the effect Hip Hop has consulted in the music industry, so of course it’ll be a part of the Grammy’s. So let’s not fuss or compare the Grammys to The Oscars. Unfortunately, it’s hard not to criticize the Grammys and question why Kendrick only took home five trophies from the 11 nominations, including not winning album of the year; better yet, not to question why it’s rare to reward Hip Hop artists who were nominated in the “Best Album of the year” category. It’s clear, The Grammys prize conservatism over innovation.
With that being said, it’s still refreshing to see the impact Kendrick’s album and performance left behind. Along with Beyonce’s “formation” performance at the Super Bowl XLIX, I must say they are perfect performances that conveyed unapologetic black pride for this year’s Black History month.