The Importance of Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy Performance


The importance of Kendrick Lamar's Grammy performance was strengthened by his reminder that black lives should be protected by the American flag, too.(Picture taken from Pixabay)

The 2018 Grammy Awards were held on Sunday, January 28, with an opening performance from Kendrick Lamar. Lamar’s stunning performance enthralled everyone watching both live and at home. Kendrick rapped four different songs and had an unexpected transition for all of them, beginning with “XXX” in front of an American Flag display with soldiers marching around him. The end of the performance included dancers clothed in red outfits falling to the ground, as noises of gunshots were heard.

“I feel like his performance was very inspirational. He was showing sophistication and defeating the odds of stereotypes. He appreciates black culture, which is very important because it is still continuing today. We are still progressing and being discriminated against, and I feel like there is so much room for us to grow,” says freshman Erykah Abercrombie.

Kendrick Lamar’s performance tackled the theme of racism as “a satire”. As a highlight of Black History Month, the performance brought to light the racial and political issues, such as police brutality, that African Americans endure. Black History Month is a whole month devoted to celebrating the achievements of African Americans and to emphasize the role and contributions of African Americans in history. Lamar has been recognized as an icon because of his influence in African American culture and music. His Grammy performance is viewed as a great way to start Black History Month.

“Black history goes back to the beginning of time, and a lot of discoveries of early civilizations and of technology occurred in ancient Africa. Blacks have contributed to technology, modern advancements, and inventions almost as much as white people, and I feel like our history should be celebrated to remind everyone the importance of blacks’ contribution to the world we have now,” says sophomore Uriel Coffi.

Though black history and its celebration are very important to the world, it is most important to the African American youth. As time passes, youth with roots tied to African American culture have less knowledge about where they come from. African American history is not a subject that schools require to be taught in classes alongside regular Caucasian-based history, so most history classes only brush the surface of the subject. Since youth do not learn about black culture in school, it is up to Black History Month to give them a time to learn about how their ancestors lived; many African Americans do, however, say that they will never limit celebrating black history to one month.

“Not enough African American people know their history. We know who colonized America and fought the wars Americans fought, but we don’t know about the roots of our people and the black heroes of America. Our whole entire history is regulated to a month. It is almost like a subconscious insult. It’s like saying, ‘Give them their month so they can shut up.’ America may only celebrate black history for 28 days, BMC may only celebrate for four days, but I celebrate black history every day, every year,” says sophomore Joel Houston.

After his recent and past Grammy performances, Kendrick Lamar is considered as one of the most iconic and influential African American musicians of our time. In his 2016 performance, Kendrick began with his band in a jail cell and proceeded to sing along to his song “Alright,” which is considered as one of the defining songs in the “Black Lives Matter” movement. After his performance, he ended by screening the word “Compton” over a picture of Africa. African Americans have influenced every type of music genre that is now recognized as distinctly American. When Africans came to America, they brought many different instruments and types of music that influenced traditional American music. African Americans, including Kendrick Lamar, continue to influence music in big ways through their own performances and music.

“I think that African Americans have contributed a lot to modern music. I think that they’ve helped start a lot of different genres like jazz, hip-hop, rap, R&B, and probably many other genres as well. They have influenced many more aspects of the world too, and it contributes to their history. That is why Black History Month is so important,” says sophomore Clara Cianfarano.

Perhaps the most memorable part of Lamar’s performance this year was when comedian Dave Chappelle walked out on stage and helped Lamar transition from song to song. He snatched the audience’s attention from Kendrick by stating a simple statement: “I just want to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching an honest black man in America is being an honest black man in America. Sorry for the interruption.” This quote alone brought attention to the racial tensions still going on in America, and most African American history is about those same racial tensions which were only worse back then.

“The importance of that quote in today’s society is paramount. Not only does this quote let you know that Kendrick isn’t afraid to let people know the state of blacks in America and how he feels, but it also gives power to the people. It lets them know that Kendrick is not the only black male or female capable of this. It’s frightening to be an honest black male because you feel the energy of the people around you when you rebel and stand out. You can feel the silence and the tension, but all it takes is one person to stand out to cause more and more people to join,” says Houston.

The racial issues and tension that have always been around led African Americans to succeed in the Civil Rights Movement because they wanted to rise above the hate. We celebrate Black History Month to remember all of the goals that African Americans achieved as a result of these tensions. However, in trying to rid America of the tensions with all of their achievements, they are still very much alive, and Kendrick’s performance was an act against all of these issues.

“There is definitely still a lot of racial tension in America. We as African Americans are still being discriminated against, and it’s not okay, nor is it fair.  We have contributed so much to the world and we are still contributing and growing. We are succeeding and are doing well here in America and all over the world, even though we have some odds against us. Despite the racial tension, America would not be America without African Americans. The music would not be the same, the atmosphere would not be the same, nothing would be the same,” says Abercrombie.