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Kendrick Lamar’s Unapologetically African Grammy Performance Was One For The Ages

It might not be a stretch to call Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 Grammys performance one of the most powerful in live television history. After sweeping the rap categories at tonight’s awards and being introduced by Don Cheadle, the Compton rapper and his dancers stepped out on stage in chains from inside a prison set before launching into “The Blacker The Berry.” “I’m African-American. I’m African” Kendrick raps on the To Pimp A Butterfly track.

Soon the performers were unchained, covered in glow-in-the-dark paint and surrounded by fire. Then suddenly, the performance transitioned into a nod to the continent as Kendrick began performing his Rap Song of the Year, “Alright,” which the rapper recently revealed was inspired by a trip to South Africa.

All of this of course led up to the grand finale, an impassioned unveiling of a new track that ended with Lamar in front of a map of the African continent with the word “Compton” written on it.

The end result was nothing short of magnificent. Watch the full performance below.

Speaking with Billboard before the show, Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich spoke on the “provocative” nature of the performance. “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.” Check out some reactions of the Kendrick Lamar Compton Africa moment from Twitter below.