All eyes are on Kendrick Lamar as he seeks to win several trophies at the 2016 Grammy Awards. On top of that, the Compton rhymer is going to deliver a very “provocative” performance at the awards show, according to producer Ken Ehrlich and Recording Academy CEO/chairman Neil Portnow.
In an interview with Billboard, both Ehrlich and Portnow said that K.Dot will perform “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright” – from his Grammy nominated album To Pimp a Butterfly — and they suspect that audiences might get uncomfortable with the TDE rapper’s performance and the social issues presented in both of those songs.
However, they believe that it’s important that they allow Kendrick to express himself and his present his art the way he sees fit.
“I don’t know that I’d say controversial; I’d say powerful,” said Portnow. “There are some artists that have a point of view in terms of bringing things to the public for conversation and creating awareness and a dialogue, and we happen to think that’s healthy. Obviously we’re on primetime TV and we have to be respectful of the laws, but I think it’s going to be a very powerful performance.”
“I suspect there will be a portion of the audience that…I don’t know that I’d use the work ‘offended,’ but certainly will be provoked by it,” added Ehrlich.
Elsewhere in the interview, Ehrlich addresses the controversy surrounding the tributary lineup for the late white music artist like David Bowie and Glenn Frey but there was no mentioning of a tribute for the iconic late black artists like Natalie Cole and Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White. We would like to throw Blowfly in the mix as well, but we digress.
Some critics accused the Grammy Awards producers of making the show all-white and even launched a hashtag movement, #GrammysSoWhite.
Ehrlich scoffs at the criticisms and revealed that a Maurice White tribute is happening possibly with Stevie Wonder and Ellie Goulding.
“It’s very unfounded. We’re doing a B.B. King tribute; the last I looked he wasn’t an old white man,” he said. “We’re doing a Natalie Cole tribute that happens to be part of the “In Memoriam” segment, but people will understand when they see the clip why we chose it and why we didn’t do a live performance. And there’s a live performance component to the Maurice White [tribute], and I can tell you that the members of the group are really pleased and happy we’re doing it.”
“There just isn’t any kind of basis in fact for people who don’t know what we’re doing to speculate about what we’re doing,” he added. “We believe that music brings people together.”
The 2016 Grammy Awards will air live from Los Angeles at 8PM ET on CBS.
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