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Grammys 2016: Kendrick Lamar’s incendiary performance stole the night

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Taking the stage at the Grammys after the sensation known as Hamilton is no easy task. Unless you are Kendrick Lamar.

Lamar, who won Best Rap Album earlier in the evening, performed two songs, "The Blacker the Berry" and "Alright." On "Blacker," Lamar's performance started off icy and minimal — with a haunting image of him popping in and out of shadows, standing at the microphone in chains.

"Your plan is to terminate my culture," he rapped. It was a shocking, fearless performance.

Then as he transitioned into "Alright," a song about survival and hope, the music began to swell, and the performance shifted into a full-on spectacle that featured a giant bonfire, neon colors illuminated by black lights, and a massive, choreographed dance party. But the focus never wavered from Lamar's voice and the powerful message of his song.

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