New York: Kendrick Lamar took the Grammy Awards by storm on Sunday, winning five early awards and opening the show with a politically charged performance that brought the audience to its feet.
Lamar, 30, regarded as one of the most innovative rappers of his generation, kicked off the program in New York with dancers dressed in military fatigues against the backdrop of an American flag.
He performed a medley of hits including “XXX.” featuring U2, “DNA.” and ending with “King’s Dead,” where dancers dressed in red hoodies mimicked being shot and falling to the floor.
The performance earned cheers and a standing ovation from the audience at Madison Square Garden. Lamar won for best rap album, music video, rap song, rap performance and rap/sung performance, defeating fellow rapper Jay-Z and leaving him empty-handed despite going into the show with a leading eight nominations.
“It’s really about expressing yourself and putting that paint on the canvas for the next generation,” Lamar said. “Hip-hop has done that.”
He thanked Jay-Z, 48, and other veteran hip-hop artists for showing him the way, adding “Jay for president!”
R&B singer Bruno Mars also had a good night, winning three early Grammys for his album “24K Magic” and hit single “That’s What I Like.”
Alessia Cara was named best new artist. “I’ve been pretend-winning Grammys since I was a kid in my shower,” she said, accepting the award.
Jay-Z, who bared his soul on his “4:44” album, was not expected to perform on Sunday in a departure from Grammy tradition.