Kendrick Lamar made the jump from critical darling to household name in 2017, and it was only right that he got to punctuate that rise by kicking off the 2017 VMAs.
Bundled in a winter coat and rocking a red durag, Kendrick kicked in the door to start the show, opening the VMAs with two cuts from Damn, "DNA" and "Humble." It was quite the spectacle, with stuntmen climbing up a burning rope ladder in the background while Kendrick continued spitting bars.
The rise of Kendrick's star was matched by the amount of nominations he received, with his eight VMA nominations leading the pack heading into the evening. But his focus wasn't a selfish one, and a point of focus for the rap star was on his TDE label mate, SZA, who he believed should be named Best New Artist.
“I watched her slave over and over to make a masterpiece that not only represents her, but represents women all over the world,” he said of her new album, Ctrl. "Something that we all can feel. It touched so many different spaces and connected with so many people. There’s nothing much more I can say — she needs to win.”
You can watch his performance from the 2017 VMAs up top.