The “DNA” rapper began the prestigious show with a performance of “XXX.” K. Dot was backed by masked dancers who were dressed in army fatigues as the screen below showed a waving U.S. flag–ironically just after the government shutdown. As the lights went out, U2’s Bono and The Edge briefly joined the Compton rapper before exiting as fireworks fell from the ceiling.
In between performances, Chappelle decided to share with the crowd, “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.”
Lamar then reappeared beside a woman playing a large drum as he broke into rhyme again, only for Chappelle to ask whether or not this performance was on cable. But the highlight came when Lamar’s dancers traded in their fatigues for hoodies. As the 30-year-old rapped, gunshots were heard as the dancers – one by one – fell to the pang of the ammunition, serving as a metaphor for police brutality in America.
The Grammy-winning lyricist has seven nominations this year including Record of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, and Best Music Video – the latter three he’s already won. Following his electrifying appearance, Lamar took home the album Best Rap/Sung Performance for “LOYALTY.” featuring Rihanna.
— Mbaliyezwe Ndlela (@mbali_ndlela) January 29, 2018