On Sunday, Lil Baby brought the 63rd Grammy Awards outside the Los Angeles Convention Center and back to this summer’s Black Lives Matter marches against police brutality for a sprawling performance of his protest song, “The Bigger Picture,” which opened with a quote from James Baldwin: “When I was brought up, I was taught in American history books that Africa had no history, and than neither had I. I was a savage about whom the least said the better, who had been saved by Europe, and who had been brought to America. Of course, I believed it. I didn’t have much choice.”
During the song, the rapper was joined by Killer Mike, who brought along a surprise verse off Run the Jewels’ “Walking in the Snow.” “The most you’ll get is a Twitter rant, calling it a tragedy / But truly the travesty: You’ve been robbed of your empathy, replaced with apathy,” Killer Mike raps, to a press conference’s worth of unmanned microphones. “All of us serve the same masters / All of us, nothing but slaves / And never forget: In the story of Jesus, the hero was killed by the state.”
The pair were also joined by activist Tamika Mallory, who issued a direct address to the White House during her poem. “President Biden, we demand justice, equity, policy, and everything else that freedom encompasses,” she intoned, in front of bleachers filled with background protestors. “To accomplish this, we don’t need allies. We need accomplices. It’s bigger than black and white. This is not a dream; this is our plight. Until freedom!”
Lil Baby closes out his performance standing on a police cruiser, his fist raised as fireworks erupted behind him, taking viewers back to the summer of 2020, reminding us of all the ways it never really ended.