Grammys and Kendrick Lamar celebrate Compton in ‘Witness Greatness’

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar, in a screen shot for a new Grammy Awards promotional film.

(Grammy Awards)

With three weeks until the Grammy Awards, the organization has released a stirring new short film featuring Kendrick Lamar.

A celebration of Lamar’s hometown, Compton, the clip stars its citizenry reciting lines from “Alright,” Lamar’s motivational anthem from the album “To Pimp a Butterfly." 

It’s been a great year for Lamar, who is slated to perform during the Feb. 15 ceremony. He’s nominated for eleven Grammys, including album of the year for “To Pimp a Butterfly.” It’s also been a banner year for Compton in the cultural conversation. In addition to Lamar’s deep ties with the city, Compton served as setting for the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton” and was the title of hometowner Dr. Dre’s acclaimed album. 

That town is the center of “Witness Greatness.” “Compton, population 97,877,” reads the opening title card, and over the next few minutes viewers watch as city residents recite the words to and dance along to “Alright.”


Different residents recite different phrases from the track. “All my life I’ve had to fight.” “Tell my mama I love her but this what I like." "Painkillers only put me on the twilight.” They move into the chorus, each confidently declaring, “We gonna be alright." 

Near the end, Lamar himself arrives. He appears on the top level of a parking lot, where he and Compton residents jump and scream in unison. It’s an exhilarating moment, particularly in light of the current issues surrounding the question of diversity among the Oscar nominees. Intentionally or not, the Grammy-produced film underscores the gulf that separates Grammys and Oscars when it comes the inclusiveness of this year’s nominees. (Relatively speaking -- Latino artists might argue otherwise.)

In addition to Lamar, confirmed performers at the Grammy Awards  include Adele, the Weeknd and Little Big Town, with more to be announced in the coming weeks. 


Follow Randall Roberts in Twitter and Instagram: @liledit

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