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While the Motion Picture Academy is under scrutiny for lacking cultural diversity, the Recording Academy made sure to incorporate every fragment of diversification in their programming. With that, The 58th Annual Grammy Awards - music’s biggest night, paid homage to some of Hip Hop and R&B’s most deserving legends.
Lionel Richie, Music Cares’ Person of The Year, was serenaded with a medley by an all-star cast of today’s biggest pop stars. John Legend kicked it off with a smooth interpretation of The Commodores' biggest hit, “Easy,” before Demi Lovato confidently belted, “Hello.”
This year’s Best New Artist winner Meghan Trainor gave her take on “You Are” and Tyrese elevated the audience to their feet with the classic “Brick House.” Richie concluded by joining them all for an enthusiastic rendition of his 1983 hit “All Night Long.”
That’s not all. Iconic rap trio RUN DMC made history last night as the first hip hop act ever to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is their first Grammy.
"It was a really big deal. It just blew my mind," Rev Run told Billboard of his excitement. "The Grammy president called me and I was lost for words. That's the bottom line. I was lost for words."
Stevie Wonder accompanied acapella group Pentatonix in a head bopping tribute to Earth Wind & Fire’s founder and lead singer Maurice White, who passed away two weeks ago. Earth, Wind & Fire along with RUN DMC and jazz giant Herbie Hancock were just three artists given the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
R&B Crooner Miguel took on Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of My Life” to commemorate the reissuing of Off the Wall and Spike Lee’s new documentary. Also, singers Bonnie Raitt, Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr. paid respect to the late great Blues legend B.B. King with “The Thrill Is Gone.”
Not only did Rap’s leading warrior Kendrick Lamar walk away with a staggering five trophies, but the most talked about moment was his delivery of an electrifying medley of “The Blacker The Berry” and “Alright” that honored Trayvon Martin and the modern day black experience in America.
Chained up, sporting prison blues, Kendrick and his crew of background dancers marched onstage with his band playing locked in prison cells. A combination of African tribal dancers and glow-in-the-dark streaked outfits, with fast action work camera were all included. The epic performance ended with Kendrick standing in silhouette in front of a large outline of the African continent with the word ‘Compton’ etched inside.
During his acceptance speech for Best Rap Album, Kendrick dedicated his victory to a few of his favorite rap albums and artists that have been overlooked by the Grammys in past years.
“This is for Hip-Hop, this is for Ice Cube. This is for Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggy Style. This is for Illmatic and Nas,” Kendrick proclaimed as he proudly held up his gramophone. “We will live forever, believe that!”
The most glorious speech came from an individual who wasn't even on stage in the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton undoubtedly delivered the greatest award show speech of all time when he dazzled viewers by rapping his acceptance speech for the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
“Lacamoire my right-hand man.
This frantic Hispanic is non-stop.
The best idea goes in the pot.
Whether you're Harnick and Bock, Pun, Biggie, or Pac,” Miranda rhymed as his fellow cast members beamed aside him.
“The cast unstoppable. Band is unbeatable.
Inimitable. Inevitable. Always inspiring me to pull through”
Their win came after the hip hop musical cast performed the show’s opening number as a live broadcast from New York’s Richard Rogers Theater.
However the Grammys would certainly not be The Grammys if there were no controversial moments.
That moment came when Taylor Swift unexpectedly threw a palm tree of shade at Kanye West during her acceptance speech for the coveted, Album of the Year:
“As the first woman to win album of the year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame, but if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you are going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there and that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
This, of course comes days after Kanye released “Fame” off of The Life of Pablo where he credits himself for making Taylor famous.
Below are just some of the Grammy Winners:
Best R&B Performance: "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)," the Weeknd
Best Traditional R&B Performance: "Little Ghetto Boy," Lalah Hathaway
Best R&B Song: "Really Love," D'Angelo and Kendra Foster
Best R&B Album: Black Messiah, D'Angelo and the Vanguard
Best Urban Contemporary Album: Beauty Behind the Madness, the Weeknd
Best Rap Performance: "Alright," Kendrick Lamar
Best Rap Song: "Alright," Kendrick Lamar
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: "These Walls," Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat
Best Rap Album:To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar
Best Gospel Song/Performance: “Wanna Be Happy,” Kirk Franklin
Best Song Written for Visual Media: "Glory," performed by Common and John Legend
Visit Grammy.com to see the complete list of winners.