Top nominee Kendrick Lamar just followed the un-followable Hamilton performance with a moment that will, no questions asked, go down in GRAMMY history. He showed up as the black-eyed leader of a chain gang to perform a rocked-out version of To Pimp a Butterfly's snarlingly political, conflicted "The Blacker the Berry." Next he crossed the stage to join tribal drummers and dancers in front of a house-size bonfire to tackle "Alright."
He closed out alone with a sequence of lightning-hot bars while the camera made jarring cuts and a strobe light flashed at increasing speed. The last image was of Kendrick standing in front of a stark white image of Africa with the word Compton printed on top.
Kendrick is nominated for 11 awards tonight, second in history only to Michael Jackson's 12 nods in 1984 for Thriller. Prior to the telecast kicking off he was declared the winner of four awards—Best Rap Performance, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap Song and Best Music Video (for his part in Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" remix). “I want to win them all,” he told Billboard earlier this month. He also grabbed the first onscreen award of the night, Best Rap Album.