The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the poor adaptability of human beings and their reluctance to understand that the world will no longer be the same. A sample of this was the 2021 Grammys ceremony, where a handful of privileged artists joined in a four-hour-long music video, while rapper Lil Baby offered a dose of reality to the audience.
While some praised Beyonce for becoming the woman with the most Grammy Awards under her belt, others admired the Mars-.Paak fusion and its retro Silk Sonic, and most wondered what the message behind Dua Lipa’s performance was.
Objectively speaking, and as Rob Sheffield noted in his review for Rolling Stone, this may well have been the best Grammy ceremony ever, if celebrating music is what it’s all about.
“They should always do the Grammys this way,” Sheffield wrote. “Last night was the best Grammy show ever, by an absurd margin – nearly four hours focused on artists doing their own songs, every performance excellent. No audience, and barely any awards. No stupid comedy bits. No presenters reading scripted banter. No Zoom screens. No ‘let’s ride the subway with Sting’ montage. Just music. This is totally out of whack with history.”
However, it’s hard to overlook that the world outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles is far more convulsive than Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s choreography.
That’s why, among all the performances, Lil Baby was the most socially and politically important.
Lil Baby performed “The Bigger Picture” with a production that made a strong call to the public emergency of police brutality.
Joined by fellow Atlanta rapper Killer Mike, activist Tamika Mallory, and actor Kendrick Sampson, Lil Baby’s performance recreated last year’s protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others.
Mallory delivered a speech mid-performance, directly addressing President Joe Biden and demanding justice in what the activist has called an action to prevent “us from getting comfortable.”