Every Hip-Hop and R&B Performance at the Grammys, Ranked
For the first time in its history, R&B and hip-hop dominated in Grammy nominations.
The most coveted awards— Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist—were all full of hip-hop/soul artists, with JAY-Z leading all artists in nominations, with eight (although he didn't take home a single award). Kendrick followed with seven, while Bruno had six, with Childish Gambino coming in with five, as well as SZA.
Bruno took home Song of the Year and Record of Year as well as Album of the Year—he swept all six of the categories in which he was nominated. And while not everyone won (see: SZA's disappointing loss for Best New Artist), the performances showcased exactly why for the first time ever, hip-hop and R&B are the most consumed genre's in music.
Here's our ranking of the best R&B and hip-hop performances of the night.
6. Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid- "1-800-273-8255"
Maybe the most powerful part of Logic's performance of his suicide prevention anthem came at the end of the song, when he gave a speech about equality and the need to shed light on societal ills if the world is ever going to truly heal. "Black is beautiful. Hate is ugly. Women are as precious as they are stronger than any man I have ever met. And unto them, I say stand tall and crush all predators under the weight of your heart that is full of the love they will never take away from you. Be not scared to use your voice, especially in instances like these when you have the opportunity. Stand and fight for those who are not weak, but who have yet to discover the strength that the evil of this world has done its best to conceal," he said in part. Undoubtedly, it was one of the most memorable performances of the evening.
5. SZA- "Broken Clocks"
Possibly the most buzzed about artist at the Grammys, SZA's performance of "Broken Clocks" was energetic, which is saying a lot because the song is mid-tempo and borderline maudlin with its raw lyrics about making the best of the day, and our tendency to return to the familiar—good or bad. It's a classic SZA song and she did it well with her charged performance.
4. Kendrick Lamar and U2- "XXX." Mashup
There's a reason why Kendrick was chosen to open the show. Aside from being nominated for seven Grammys, when Kendrick performs on live TV, he brings it. The Grammys was no different, and his performance was both statement art and and political commentary. The artistry Kendrick brings to the table is virtually unrivaled and popular music, and his daring, provocative showing only continued to prove why he's one of the most innovative artists on the scene.
3. Bruno Mars and Cardi B- "Finesse" Remix
No doubt, Bruno Mars and Cardi B brought the energy from the video, which paid homage to the classic 90s sketch-comedy series, In Living Color. Cardi was being Cardi—energetic and real, while Bruno delivered the stage show that had him selling out arenas around the world on his 24K Magic tour.
2. Rihanna, DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller- "Wild Thoughts"
Was it the cleanest performance? Nah. But it this was probably the livest performance of the night. Seriously. You gotta wonder what Ri-Ri was drinking back stage because her performance was pretty lit. She danced, she cha-cha'ed, she paid homage to her Bajan roots and she did it all while looking as if she was having the time of her life. That kind of energy is infectious. Basically, she was the star of the song, even though Khaled made sure everyone heard him and his 50 million ad-libs throughout the performance. Never one to be out shined, Rihanna owned the stage, as usual.
1. Childish Gambino- "Terrified"
Although "Redbone" is no doubt the standout record on his five time nominated album, Awaken My Love!, it was dope to see Childish Gambino deliver one of the sleeper hits from the album, "Terrified" as he channeled his inner Sly Stone. And when he brought out 10-year-old JD McCrary, who is also featured on the album version of the song, it was a wrap. The two shared screaming falsettos at the end and it was probably the dopest performance of the entire night.
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