The 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday had Kendrick Lamar sweeping the rap categories, even as the show devoted much of its airtime to lionizing musical heroes of decades past.
Although Taylor Swift had received nominations for all of the most prestigious categories, the top awards were split fairly evenly among a crop of young stars. Mark Ronson won record of the year for ‘Uptown Funk,’ the upbeat, retro dance song featuring Bruno Mars that dominated radio last year and that they played at the Super Bowl. Ed Sheeran, the cherubic British singer-songwriter, won song of the year for his soul-inflected ballad ‘Thinking Out Loud,’ sharing the prize with his co-writer, Amy Wadge.
And Kendrick Lamar, the rapper whose complex songs about black identity and racial strife have dazzled critics and become touchstones of the Black Lives Matter movement, took a total of five prizes including Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly, Best Rap Song for “Alright”, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “These Walls”. And he delivered a confrontational medley of his songs “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright.”
The awards, broadcast by CBS from the Staples Center in Carlifornia, had Kendrick give a super performance. For his performance, Mr. Lamar appeared in chains and a blue prison uniform, surrounded by other black men. After a blistering rap, he stood in front of a giant glowing map of Africa marked with the word “Compton.”
“This for hip-hop,” Mr. Lamar said as he accepted the award for best rap album, telegraphing his win as a victory for the genre and also honoring classic rap albums of the past that were not accepted into the Grammy pantheon. “This for Snoop Dogg, ‘Doggystyle.’ This for ‘Illmatic,’ this for Nas. We will live forever, believe that.”
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