Kendrick Lamar entered the night with eleven nominations and stepped onstage already winning five awards. An artist that isn't afraid to make a statement when given a microphone, stepped to the stage shackled as a part of a chain gang.
He started, then stopped, and started back into "Blacker the Berry." The introspective track lead into a set transition from Lamar and his crew behind bars into rapping before a stage bonfire surrounded by painted dancers. He then transitioned to "Alright" as the dancers and the costumed inmates joined him in a rapturous dance, before he returned to the mic to freestyle -- even hitting a few references to his pre-fame album Section.80 -- then closed the scene standing in front of a picture of Africa with "Compton" written across.
If there was a moment for a statement, of course, it would be muddled performed on a Grammy stage. That the striking show was followed up by Seth MacFarlane presenting the award for Best Musical Theater Album must've been someone's cruel joke. Still, the impact of the performance was felt with even Adele giving the rapper a quick shout-out after her own.