Kendrick Lamar kicked off the 2018 Grammy Awards on Sunday by opening the show with a fiery performance and picking up the night’s first big honor.
The rapper was already a triple winner heading into New York’s Madison Square Garden after Humble. claimed Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, and Best Music Video in the accolades announced before the main televised show.
He then helped to launch the 60th annual prizegiving with a rendition of XXX. with U2’s Bono and The Edge, performing a medley of tracks from DAMN., which is nominated for the top prize of Record of the Year. The set also featured commentary from comedian Dave Chappelle.
Kendrick was soon back onstage as he accepted the Best Rap/Sung Performance for Loyalty., his tune with Rihanna, who he praised for outshining him on his own track.
After thanking his fans and his team, he turned to the R&B beauty and added, “Ay, Rihanna, what’s up, man? She came through again and gassed me on that record, gassed me on my own song, man, so this really belongs to her, real talk (sic)!”
Singer Alessia Cara was also celebrating early as she collected the Best New Artist accolade, while Ed Sheeran, who was not in attendance, claimed Best Pop Solo Performance for Shape of You, adding to the Best Pop Vocal Album he scored for ÷ (Divide) before the broadcast.
Kendrick and Ed weren’t the only stars to shine ahead of the main Grammys show – Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic was named Best R&B Album, and That’s What I Like earned the singer Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song.
Other early honorees included Chris Stapleton (Best Country Song for Broken Halos and Best Country Solo Performance for Either Way), Foo Fighters (Best Rock Song for Run), and Shakira (Best Latin Pop Album for El Dorado).
There were also posthumous awards for Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher, whose memoir The Princess Diarist won Best Spoken Word Album, while Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker landed him the Best Rock Performance trophy.