The Grammys were all about messages this year. From Blue Ivy letting us know she runs the Knowles-Carter household, to everyone with white roses in support of Time’s Up, Kendrick Lamar’s American satire and Kesha’s powerful Time’s Up-esque performance (featuring Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Andra Day and more), taking a stand has become an important thread in the makeup of an artist. “We come in peace, but we mean business,” said Janelle Monáe, carrying the torch for equality for women with her Grammys appearance.
Monáe shook the table with her speech:
Tonight, I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist, but a young woman, with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry—artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEOs, producers, engineers and women from all sectors of the business. We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and human beings. To those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: #TimesUp. We say time’s up for pay inequality, discrimination or harassment of any kind, and the abuse of power.
Grammy nominees Logic and Khalid, alongside Grammy winner Alessia Cara, performed their powerful nominated song, “1-800-273-8255.” The song, about suicide, was a shift not only in the culture but also in the room, with the performers bringing a group of suicide survivors and family members of suicide victims onstage with them. Logic ended the performance with a stance on immigration policy, saying, “Bring us your tired, your poor and any immigrant who seeks refuge.”
To say there were important moments at the Grammys this year is to make an understatement. Check out some of the best moments from the 2018 Grammys:
The 2018 Grammys opened in a big way with Kendrick Lamar giving us a powerful political performance complete with American flags and marching soldiers. With tears in his eyes, Lamar rapped a mile a minute to songs like “XXX,” “DNA” and “King’s Dead,” marching alongside the soldiers and introducing us to his satire. The screens behind him read, “This is a satire by Kendrick Lamar.” Men in red hoodies fell to the ground every time Lamar extended his arm to shoot them.
As if that wasn’t entertaining enough, Lamar brought out U2’s Bono and the Edge and Dave Chappelle! Chappelle reminded the audience, “The only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being a an honest black man in America.” Message! Then out came a black female drummer, not only giving you African realness, but sis danced, too! Lamar better give us Motherland! “Is this on cable?” Chappelle asked, because Lamar was out here giving the world the realness.
By the time Lamar went onstage, he was already the winner of three Grammys. He won for best rap performance, best rap album and best music video for “Humble.” He and Rihanna also won best rap/sung performance for “Loyalty.” I’m like congrats to Lamar and all, but Rihanna in that monochromatic vinyl moment was worth fawning over.
Oh, and I couldn’t get enough of Rihanna busting out the South African dance the gwara gwara!
Sam Smith was accompanied by a black church choir that stood behind him giving nothing but strong black women who were all fresh out the salon. Sam sang down on his single “Pray” as the choir served us Baptist church.
Jon Batiste and Gary Clark Jr. laced the stage with more rock ’n’ roll than the Grammys deserved with their Chuck Berry and Fats Domino tribute. Late Show bandleader Batiste’s laid-back style was a perfect complement to Clark’s funky style. From Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” to Berry’s “Maybelline,” the performance reminded us all of Berry’s and Domino’s undeniable contributions to music.
“Yeah, these front-row seats to the Grammys are great and all, but chill, Mom and Dad, you’re embarrassing me.” We all go through that phase where our parents are less superhero and more super annoying. I wonder what that’s going to look like for Blue Ivy because she clearly runs the entire compound of the Knowles-Carters.
I felt like I was in the middle of a ’90s sex scene in a classic black movie. Donald Glover sang “Terrified” and the vibes of the entire show changed. There are moments during many shows when singers bring out their backup singers to riff together. One of the most iconic was when Mariah Carey brought out Trey Lorenz during a performance of “I’ll Be There,” and going forward, everyone wanted to hear that version of the song. Glover brought out child actor J.D. McCrary (who is featured on the song), and he is easily a vocal genius.
Glover was quietly impressive. He’s well on his way to EGOT territory, as he’s already holding two Emmys and a Grammy. An Oscar and a Tony aren’t far-fetched.
Dave Chappelle was asked to present the award for the best rap album, and he did so, in a very Chappelle way. He gave several shoutouts, including one to A Tribe Called Quest, calling them all out by name, then making a reference to the group’s 2016 album, We Got It from Here ... Thank You 4 Your Service.
“I have so much love and respect to all the nominees tonight,” Chappelle began, “and I just want to take a moment to honor Jarobi, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Q-Tip, sometimes Busta, sometimes Consequence and, of course, always and forever Phife Dawg. Can we kick it?”
And then Kendrick Lamar won the Grammy, giving him his fifth win for the night! “God up top all the time,” Lamar said. “I thought it was about the accolades, the cars and clothes, but it’s really about expressing yourself and putting that paint on the canvas for the world to evolve for the next generation and the next.”
Ugh, Kendrick Lamar for president!
(Sidenote: When Dave Chappelle won the Grammy for best comedy album, mostly what he had to say in his acceptance speech was, “See you Monday.”)
It’s hard to watch Cardi B without being excited thinking of her meteoric rise and smiling. I’m just so proud of her, out here getting nominated and performing at her first Grammys! Being nominated up against Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar is crazy and, yes, “Bodak Yellow” still slaps.
It was great seeing Grammy god Bruno Mars and Cardi kill their In Living Color tribute of a performance on the Grammys stage. Bruno’s dance break hyped the crowd up with the best ’90s moves you’ve seen since House Party.
Sting wants us to know that he’s all about the islands with his new collaboration with Shaggy. From their subway skit (that went on way too long) with the show’s host, James Corden, to their performance, I felt force-fed, but I am honestly curious about this odd couple.
There’s evidently a joint album coming, and they sang “Don’t Make Me Wait,” which actually does slap. I’m low-key excited for this unlikely pairing. I might be lying.
What’s black as hell? Having actor and picture-of-perfection Shemar Moore and rapper and host Eve introducing SZA to the stage for her first Grammys performance. And SZA went off!
And my feelings are a little bit hurt that SZA was the most nominated woman at the Grammys this year and left with nothing. I’m glad she didn’t win for best new artist. We all know that curse.
One of host James Corden’s skits consisted of various celebrities with not-so-positive opinions on your president sitting down to do dramatic readings of the book Fire and Fury. The lineup was perfect: John Legend, Snoop Dogg, Cher, Cardi B and Hillary Clinton. The skit was glorious.
And an honorable mention goes to Cardi B’s red-carpet moment with E! host Giuliana Rancic. When she asked Cardi how she was feeling, Cardi cardi-ed and said: “I’m feeling good. I’m feeling nervous, overwhelmed, everything. Butterflies in my stomach and vagina.”
It was clear Rancic couldn’t remember the Cardi B lyrics she desperately wanted to summon; nor could she handle Cardi (or Lil Uzi Vert, for that matter), but Cardi handled her own and made for another hilarious, viral moment.
Did you watch the 2018 Grammys? What was your favorite part?