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Grammys highlighted by Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift’s speech

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Tuesday, February 16, 2016, 12:23 AM

021516113756Matt Sayles/Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Kendrick Lamar brings down the house with his performance.

The Grammys were on fire.

Kendrick Lamar, the most-nominated artist of the night, confronted the race controversy head on – and came out swinging.

During his frequently bleeped performance of “The Blacker the Berry” and his Grammy-nominated “Alright,” the stage blazed with passion and actual bonfire.

Right on cue – and not by accident. Earlier in the evening, he’d won five Grammys, including best rap album for “To Pimp a Butterfly,” and got a Tweet from the White House.

“Shoutout to @KendrickLamar and all the artists at the #Grammys working to build a brighter future. #MyBrothersKeeper” read the message on social media.

Lamar is a performer with reach. And he knows it.

His was the show-stopping moment in an otherwise polite evening of air kisses and sequin dresses.

But Lamar, 28, from Compton, Calif., had something to say. And like Beyoncé, who used the Super Bowl to make her point about black lives mattering, he followed suit.

During the performance he appeared in hand cuffs and chains. He ended with a map of Africa, with Compton superimposed.

Any questions?

Prior to airing on Monday from the Staples Center in Los Angles, the 58th Grammy Awards raised both red flags and questions. Producers were accused of shortchanging black artists who’ve recently passed.

LL Cool J, hosting for the fifth year in a row, indirectly addressed the controversy in the most polite and politic fashion. “With all that divides us today, our shared love of music unites us.”

Taylor Swift, fetching and fierce in a black catsuit, got the Grammys grooving from the get-go with “Out of the Woods” a tune from her album “1989.”

Singer Taylor Swift makes an allusion to Kanye West while accepting the award for the Album of the Year.ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Singer Taylor Swift makes an allusion to Kanye West while accepting the award for the Album of the Year.

Swift, who was up for seven trophies, took home three – album of the year, best pop vocal and best music video.

Accepting for best album, “1989,” she thanked her fans.

She continued by noting that she is the lone female who’s won two best album Grammys and delivered a message that could have been aimed at Kanye West, who recently took credit for her fame. Speaking to young women, Swift said, “There are going to be people along the way, people who will undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments.” Swift’s advice: “focus on the work.”

And in an evening in which the Grammy love was spread around. Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson snagged the coveted record of the year for “Uptown Funk.”

Three thousand miles east in Midtown in New York, the Broadway blockbuster “Hamilton,” as widely expected, took home the best musical theater album. The cast appeared via satellite from the Richards Rodgers Theatre. The show’s creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda rapped his acceptance speech.

A first-timer in the winner’s circle, Ed Sheeran took home a Grammy for song of the year for “Thinking Out Loud.” He also won for best pop solo performance. He said he would have been automatically amazed for his triumph but the fact that legend Steve Wonder presented the award made it even better. The winner’s name was written in braille. Wonder used the moment to encourage accessibility “for everyone.”

Sheeran thanked his parents for coming. He joked, “Every time I lose they go, ‘Maybe next year.'” But this was his year.

Newcomer Chris Stapleton picked up a pair of Grammys – best country album for “Traveller” and country solo performance. In another stunning first, Justin Bieber became a Grammy winner. He won for best dance recording for “Where are U Now,” a collaboration with Skrillex and Diplo.

Music director Alex Lacamoire and actor/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda celebrate a Grammy win for ‘Hamilton.’Theo Wargo/WireImage

Music director Alex Lacamoire and actor/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda celebrate a Grammy win for ‘Hamilton.’

Best new artist went to Meghan Trainor, who said “I’m a mess.” She thanked her reps and parents through tears.

Alabama Shakes won a trio of trophies, including best rock performance. Clutching a trophy, group member Brittany Howard said “When we started this we were in high school. We just did it for fun” and that they didn’t expect prizes and accolades. She promised her fans that the group is “gonna keep going.”

Not everything went off according to the script. Just hours before the show, Rihanna pulled out of her scheduled performance due to bronchitis. “Rihanna’s doctor put her on vocal rest for 48-hours because she was at risk of hemorrhaging her vocal chords. The antibiotics she has been on for three days did not kill the infection adequately therefore she cannot perform safely,” the singer’s rep told the Daily News in a statement.

Throughout the night there were performances and tributes. The Eagles paid an emotional tribute to late guitarist Glenn Frey. Along with the a cappella group Pantatonix, Wonder saluted late Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White with “That’s the Way of the World.”

And fresh from her triumphant performance of the national anthem at the Super Bowl, Lady Gaga paid tribute to the late, great David Bowie with rendition of “Changes,” “Suffragette City,” “Rebel Rebel” and “Ziggy Stardust.”

jdziemianowicz@nydailynews.com

Tags:
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Kendrick Lamar ,
Taylor Swift
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