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Lil Baby Enlists Kendrick Sampson, Tamika Mallory and Killer Mike for Social Justice-Focused Grammys Performance

Lil Baby Grammys Performance
Courtesy of CBS

Lil Baby performed “The Bigger Picture” in a powerful call to action against police brutality during the 63rd annual Grammy Awards. The rapper was joined during for the performance by three prominent activists: “Insecure” star Kendrick Sampson, Women’s March cofounder Tamika Mallory and Atlanta rapper Killer Mike.

Following an intro from James Baldwin, the performance opened with Sampson’s character being gunned down by a police officer. The scene seemed to echo the killing of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot by police at a Wendy’s in Atlanta, Ga. in June 2020. Mallory and Killer Mike appeared during interludes of Lil Baby’s performance, decrying police brutality and calling for equality and safety for Black people, with Mallory standing at a lectern surrounded by a group of protestors and demanding action from the Biden administration specifically.

“My performance is important to me and I had to make sure it was right. Nominations aside, actually performing ‘The Bigger Picture’ means the most to me,” Lil Baby stated after the performance. “I paint pictures with my songs and wanted the performance to bring that picture to life. Just like with the song, this performance had to reflect the real. No sugar-coating. My family, my fans and my city know who I do this for.”

In a behind the scenes video released Sunday, Lil Baby shared what went into the crafting the powerful moment, filmed on the streets outside the Los Angeles Converntion Center, where the 2021 Grammys were held.

“So many people are looking for institutions like the Grammys to step to the plate and to allow us to voice the real true deep feelings that so many communities are trying to process every days,” Mallory said in the video.

“I think it’s important that this performance happen right now because it’s needed. … I think art just kind of puts it out as it is, that things aren’t just polarized in black and white, that it’s nuance,” Killer Mike added. (The Run the Jewels rapper is a Grammy-winner in his own right, winning a trophy for best rap song in 2017.)

On Sunday afternoon, Sampson appeared on E!’s red carpet pre-show, previewing the performance for host Giuliana Rancic, “It feels like a history moment … I’m praying and hoping that [the] ancestors are proud that we honor the movement in this performance, and inspire folks to incorporate liberation in to their art more.”

Sampson, who is also the founder of the communication organization BLD PWR, for also noted that it was one year ago on Saturday that Breonna Taylor was killed.

“We want to celebrate and honor her and I believe that we do it through our art and our lives,” he explained. “The same anti-Blackness that devalues are art is the same anti-Blackness that devalues our lives and that’s what leads to the violence against people like Breonna Taylor and so many others.”

The Atlanta rapper — born Dominique Armani Jones — was up for two Grammy Awards, including best rap song and best rap performance for “The Bigger Picture,” which was a response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last year and the Black Lives Matters protests of summer 2020.

Lil Baby’s album, “My Turn”, was released at the end of February 2020. It entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1 and remained in the Top 5 for 14 weeks, and then returned to the top spot  n June for four consecutive weeks.

Earlier this month, he released the single “Real As It Gets” featuring Kentucky rapper EST Gee. It is the first single since the release of “Errybody” and “On Me” on his birthday in December 2020.

He will also guest on the forthcoming release of Alabama rapper Clever’s album, alongside other artists including  Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Post Malone and the late Juice WRLD.

Watch the full performance here.