Lamar begin his performance in front of an American flag, side-by-side with men dressed in soldiers’ uniforms. The musician performed his collaboration with U2, “XXX,” and was joined by Bono and the Edge on stage before Dave Chappelle made a surprise cameo.
“I just want to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America,” Chappelle said in an interlude. Later, the comedian would ask if the performance was “on cable.”
Behind Lamar, message on the screen read “This is a satire by Kendrick Lamar,” as he moved into “DNA” with the soldiers dancing alongside. The performance ended with dancers in red hoodies falling amid the sound of gunshots.
Lamar is no stranger to performing for the Grammy Awards. In 2014 he sang a mashup of “m.A.A.d. City” and “Radioactive” alongside rock band Imagine Dragons. During the 2016 ceremony, he screened a short film he made of his hometown of Compton, Calif. and his song “Alright.”
This year, Lamar is one of the top nominees, earning seven nods including album of the year for “DAMN.” and record of the year for “HUMBLE.” The only other artist with more nominations this year is Jay-Z, who earned eight nominations. Lamar has previously won seven Grammys including best rap album for “To Pimp a Butterfly” and best rap song for “Alright.”
U2 has 46 Grammy nominations and 22 wins under their belts. They were last nominated for best rock album for “Songs of Innocence,” which became the center of controversy after it was automatically downloaded to millions of Apple devices.
The band is scheduled to go on their “Experience + Innocence” tour beginning in Tulsa, Okla. on May 2.