M.I.A. is a G! Let’s never question her standing in hip-hop. She was due to have a baby on Sunday (February 8), and she got onstage at the Grammys, belly and all, and performed in a sheer outfit. The singer more than hung with the big dawgs — Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I. and Lil Wayne — during their performance of “Swagga Like Us.”
Queen Latifah introduced the group as the “Rap Pack,” and the whole house stood up as all five were revealed for their historic performance. T.I. had a different name for the collective when we talked to him on the red carpet : “The Swagg Pack.”
All fresh, all in black tuxedos, all with distinctive swag, the gang came together for their first-ever performance.
M.I.A. kicked off the set, which was modeled after a 1950s performance in the main showroom of Las Vegas’ Sands Hotel. She sang a little of “Paper Planes,” ending with the vocal that’s sampled for the “Swagga” song: “No one on the corner has swagga like us.”
The big band was dressed in white, while the pack all wore black. Kanye started off with his well-known opening: “Mr. West is in the building. Swagga on a hundred, thousand … ”
“Trillion!” they all yelled in unison.
All the guys and M.I.A. were in close proximity hyping ‘Ye up. Jay-Z was second, and as he gloated about people jockin’ his fresh, the ensemble pretended to wipe him down. Obviously, there wasn’t a stain on the pristinely dressed crew.
Wayne wore his rocker hat and placed it on M.I.A.’s head when he began to rhyme. The crew strolled like they were on the runway, following Wayne to the front of the stage as he began to rhyme.
T.I. took off his tux jacket when his verse came up. With his bow tie unwound, Tip closed the record.
“You can go see Weezy for the wordplay, Jeezy for the bird play,” Tip rapped with Wayne sitting on the steps bobbing and the rest of the crew in tow. “Kanyeezy for diversity and me for controversy/ All my verses picture-perfect, only spittin’ certain purpose/ If you ain’t living what you kickin’ then you worthless.”
After the last note, the crowd gave everyone a standing ovation. Maybe they should take that show on the road …
Will Lil Wayne grab all the gramophones? Is Katy Perry going to tell her girl rivals to kiss off? Can Coldplay march off with a win? MTV News is all over the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, so stay tuned for interviews, analysis and more before, during and after the big night.