The 59th annual GRAMMY Awards featured several outstanding performances, including Bruno Mars paying tribute to Prince and Chance The Rapper's stirring renditions of "How Great" and "All We Got," but the brightest highlight of the nearly four-hour broadcast was A Tribe Called Quest's performance of "We The People."
Flanked by special guests Anderson .Paak, Busta Rhymes and Consequence, Q-Tip and Jarobi put on a rousing performance that matched the current mood of the country and wasn't tone deaf like many of the night's performances. Seriously, it was incredible.
In a brief, post-show interview with the GRAMMYs, Busta Rhymes explained the mission behind their performance:
"I hope y'all appreciated the importance of what it is to stand up for the truth, stand up for what's right, represent the culture in the proper way, the many cultures, represent hip-hop, and entertain people at the same time. Good balance of science, good balance of heat."
For years, the GRAMMYs have been apprehensive to book multiple hip-hop acts for the ceremony—Kendrick was the lone rapper in 2016, while Common was the lone rapper in 2015—but on Sunday evening, they lined up both ATCQ and Chance The Rapper on the bill.
While Chance's performance was only 1/3 hip-hop, 2⁄3 part Gospel, hip-hop was indeed well represented on "music's biggest night." But as Rhymes pointed out in his commentary, of greater importance is how these chosen performers represented the culture—the "proper way."
At a time when the president of the United States is battling with the judiciary to institute an unconstitutional travel ban, ATCQ performing "We The People" at the GRAMMYs for a global audience of millions was so much greater than just another award show performance.
In serving as a voice for the voiceless—the people who don't have access to a stage that large to get across their fears and frustrations—Busta and co. didn't just "stand up for the truth" or "stand up for what's right," they showed the world that the resistance is real.
And there's nothing more hip-hop than that.