By Raisa Bruner
Updated: January 28, 2018 11:37 PM ET | Originally published: January 29, 2018

In a high-octane opening act, nominated rapper Kendrick Lamar kicked off the 60th Annual Grammy Awards with a bold medley of songs from his album DAMN. He was joined onstage by a cadre of male dancers in military attire, before U2’s Bono and The Edge also showed up for their “XXX” collaboration. In between Lamar’s song segments, comedian Dave Chappelle offered some unexpected commentary.

“I just wanted 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 wryly before the camera switched back to Lamar and his dance crew. Throughout the incendiary, politicized Grammy performance — it opened with a flag waving in the background, included the title “This is a satire,” and ended with a choreographed sequence in which all of Lamar’s dancers were shot down — Lamar maintained a singular focus.

A scene from Kendrick Lamar's opening act during the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York on Jan. 28, 2018. Lucas Jackson—Reuters
Lucas Jackson—Reuters
Kendrick Lamar performs during the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York on Jan. 28, 2018. Lucas Jackson—Reuters
Lucas Jackson—Reuters

Lamar then picked up the first Grammy award of the night for Best Rap/Sung Performance for his collaboration with Rihanna, “Loyalty.”

Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com.

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