Before the show even began, Grammys host James Corden said that Kendrick Lamar had cooked up, “without question, the most unique and bold opening you could ever imagine, I think, in Grammy history.” A bold statement, sure, but Rap music’s new top dog validated that statement with his stellar performance.
Kung Fu Kenny gave maybe one of hip hop’s most important performances in Grammy history. Emerging from the darkness flanked by a squadron of soldiers, Lamar rapped out his DAMN cut “XXX” with startling precision. Midway through he was joined by U2, before cool interruption by comedian Dave Chappelle, who cheered him on using the famous Muhammad Ali quote, roaring “Rumble Young man, rumble!”
Kendrick is on his way to sweeping all the hip hop and rap categories. He’s up for more nominations than any other artist on the docket, including Record Of The Year, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance, and Best Music Video for his single, “Humble.” Another single “Loyalty,” which features Rihanna could take home the Best Rap/Sung Performance Grammy, while his 2017 album DAMN is up for Best Rap Album, and the most coveted prize of them all, Album Of The Year.
This isn’t the first time Kendrick has been thrown into the Album Of The Year mix. Two of his last three albums prior to DAMN. were also up for the honor, but he’s yet to actually win it. 2012’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City lost to Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memory,’ while his 2015 full-length project To Pimp A Butterfly was spurned in favor of Taylor Swift’s 1989. In fact, no rap artist has won the Album Of The Year awards since OutKast claimed it back in 2004 for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
Watch Kendrick Lamar be joined on the Grammys stage by U2 and Dave Chappelle below.