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A More Powerful Message In Kendrick Lamar's 2016 Grammy Performance

After a spoiler from hip-hop pioneer LL Cool J that he was bringing a "very controversial" performance to the 2016 Grammy's, Kendrick Lamar hit the stage and did just that. He delivered the most controversial performance of the night, he and his background performers emerged stumbling out of a prison background bound in chains. His band locked in jail cells as they performed "The Blacker The Berry". A song with lyrics alone that conveys a message so powerful it can't be ignored or misconstrued. The video is even more graphically clear at pointing a finger at the issues of systematic oppression of blacks, black on black crime and the disproportionate number of black men in prison.

"My hair is nappy, my d*** is big, my nose is round and wide
You hate me don't you?
You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture
You're fuckin' evil I want you to recognize that I'm a proud monkey
You vandalize my perception but can't take style from me"

Kendrick followed up that performance with a very cultural setting for his song  "Alright" in front of a huge bonfire and with tribal dancers. One thing worthy of note was that none of the women were sexualized nor was their choreography and they all had cultural hairstyles symbolic of black Americans African ancestry. Making a very powerful statement that black women are more than sex symbols and don't have to be sexually exploited or give up their natural appeal just to be on stage.
"Uh, and when I wake up
I recognize you're lookin' at me for the pay cut"

He then transitioned into a never before heard song backed up by fast lighting and camera work revealing his bruised face. With lyrics that sound like a tribute to Nat Turner he ended his performance standing in front of the giant continent of Africa. Both songs off Lamar's album To Pimp A Butterfly speak directly to the modern-day black experience. and his Grammy performance didn't shy away from that message at all.

His lyrics match the content of his videos and his performance complimented them both.

To Pimp A Butterfly secured Kendrick 7 Grammy nominations this year, he took home four awards before the show began, and was also awarded for Best Rap Album.