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Kendrick Lamar just made the rest of the Grammys irrelevant.

After a very, very slow start, the Grammys went on a fifteen minute run of incredible television—easily the best twenty minutes I can remember watching on the Grammys or anything else. The cast of Hamilton kicked things off with an intense, charming performance of “Alexander Hamilton.” As the crowd in the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York erupted, it seemed like nothing would top their performance. 

Then Kendrick Lamar came on stage in Los Angeles  performed a medley of “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright” from his most recent album To Pimp a Butterfly that was unlike anything I’d seen on television before. Kendrick came out dressed in a prison uniform, with a chain gang and the next few minutes were radical and experimental: Lamar and his dancers break loose, revealing the glow in the dark paint on their clothes; he raps in front of a bonfire; Lamar’s performance ends with rapid-fire close-up cuts that represent some of the best editing (not necessarily awards show’s strong suits) and a map of Africa labeled “Compton.” There’s more to say about this performance, and I’m sure we’ll be reading about it a lot tomorrow, but for now it’s worth reveling in it.