Taylor Swift may have won the top prize at the Grammy Awards Monday night, but it was Compton-born rapper Kendrick Lamar who stirred things up on social media with a fiery performance, rife with racial imagery.
Lamar was up for 10 Grammys heading into the event. He went on to win five, including Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance, for his work on, "To Pimp a Butterfly."
Lamar's album serves a searing commentary about the black experience in America, touching on concepts not often heard in mainstream music. His performance comes on the heels of Beyoncé’s politically charged Super Bowl halftime show. Both displays have been billed as “unapologetically black” by music commentators. Do these instances of musical activism indicate the start of a new chapter in popular music?
Music supervisor and Take Two contributor, Morgan Rhodes, was at the Grammys and weighed in.
How was [Kendrick Lamar’s performance] received in the room?
“I looked around at that … I could look around the room and see that there were some people that were just sitting in their seats sort-of looking like ‘wow,’ almost trying to take it in — almost trying to understand it.”
I think that goes to the heart of possibly why he didn’t win ... If you’re comparing Kendrick Lamar’s album to Taylor Swift’s album, they’re very, very, very different, and the people who are voting clearly maybe understand one and not the other.
“Right. There are only two rap albums that have won album of the year … And you figure for a genre like hip-hop that’s been around for forty years and has had outstanding performances and albums during those forty years — that’s not a good thing. Certainly there should be more hip-hop artists recognized at the very highest levels: song of the year and album of the year. So I think the Grammys do have a little bit of a problem in how they see hip-hop and its importance in a larger canon of music.”