Posted: January 08, 2018
By Melissa Ruggieri, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA, Ga. —
While the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide battled for college football supremacy under the closed roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, rap luminary Kendrick Lamar combated damp, chilly weather at nearby Centennial Olympic Park.
Expectations were high for Lamar’s appearance, which will be footnoted as the first-ever halftime performance at the College Football Playoff National Championship. The musical showcase aired live on ESPN, but not inside the stadium, where the university bands received the spotlight.
The 30-year-old native of Compton, Calif., took to the massive stage and catwalk as the game tilted in Georgia’s favor with a 13-0 lead.
A few thousand fans led a chant of “Ken-drick La-mar” until the cerebral rapper was illuminated in white light, crouched at the back of the stage.
Pops of pyro and a haze of smoke blanketed the background as Lamar, clad in a black coat with fur-ringed hood and gloves, blasted through favorites including “DNA” and “Humble.”
The vivacious audience sang along heartily and pumped their fists to the choruses as Lamar stalked the stage alone.
Lamar nimbly spit his rhymes, leading the crowd in a hand bounce, but kept the focus solely on his music.
With his nine-minute performance completed, he strode to each end of the stage, saluting the audience, which waved its smartphones (despite the pre-performance announcement that phones were not permitted) in a desperate attempt to coax him into one more song.
Lamar’s presence was a notable draw. A few minutes before kickoff, music and football devotees filled about half of half of the park – most of them crowded toward the massive video screen broadcasting the game, with many others hanging back, clearly not interested in anything to do with pigskin.
“Chappie” Chapman was waiting with a beer in her hand and one at her feet for Lamar’s performance. When asked if she had any interest in the game, she smiled.
“Not. At. All,” she said.
Chapman lives near the park and said when she heard at work today that Lamar was playing, she knew how her night would be spent.
“When you have Kendrick Lamar for free…,” she said, her voice implying the “no-brainer”-ness of the opportunity.
Likewise 19-year-old Decatur resident Branden Smith, who came to the park with his football fan brother. Smith, however, was only there for the halftime show.
“I’ve never seen (Lamar) live, and I like his music,” Smith said, citing “Damn” as a favorite.
Lamar, who performed in Atlanta last summer with a sold-out show at Infinite Energy Arena, is poised to have a big night at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 28 in New York.
He is nominated for seven awards, including album of the year and best rap album for “Damn” and record of the year for “Humble.” He’s already received seven Grammy awards in his career.
Lamar’s prestige factor also received a boost last week with the announcement that he and his Top Dawg Entertainment record label chief Anthony Tiffith will curate and produce the soundtrack to Marvel’s “Black Panther.”
The film arrives Feb. 16; the soundtrack will feature the newly released Lamar single with labelmate SZA, “All the Stars.”
Who will be taking home a gramophone for the 2018 Grammy Awards? The names of the nominees were announced Tuesday morning.
The nominees for the 60th annual Grammys were announced Tuesday morning, and JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, SZA, and Khalid are among the most nominated. If that list is any indication, hip-hop and R&B are finally getting their due at the award show.
Leading with eight nominations, JAY-Z’s critically acclaimed “4:44” is one of his most consistently personal albums ever. His work on the album with producer and writer No I.D. has led to five nominations for the latter.
Right behind JAY-Z is Kendrick Lamar, whose album “DAMN.” has contributed to his seven nominations. Bruno Mars has six nominations. R&B-pop singer-songwriter Khalid, R&B singer SZA and Childish Gambino -- known as an actor as Donald Glover -- all have five nominations.
Khalid and SZA are nominated for best new artist, along with rapper Lil Uzi Vert and pop singer-songwriters Julia Michaels and Alessia Cara. SZA stands out as one of the few women of color nominated this year.
Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito,” which includes Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber, is also groundbreaking. The reggaeton song is mostly in Spanish and is nominated for record and song of the year, as well as best pop duo/group performance. It could make history as the first Spanish-language song to win song of the year
The Associated Press noted that no rock or country acts were nominated in the big four categories -- song of the year, album of the year, record of the year and best new artist.
The nomination of so many black artists in categories beyond hip-hop and R&B also marks a change in the Recording Academy. No longer are musicians of color relegated to mostly genre-specific honors. It’s a newer effort, according to a Billboard interview with Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow.
“We have taken a concerted effort to making sure that the voting membership of the Academy is representative of the creative community,” Portnow said. “We’ve got 84 categories. Are we well-represented with membership from all of them? Are we engaging them? Are they participating? We look at that regularly and to the extent that we find there are areas that need more attention, we’ll do that.”
“We have a current membership that is savvy and certainly timely, is current and reflective of what music is about today and in the future,” Portnow said. “And clearly, the diversification work that we’ve done for our membership is evident in all of the nominations this year. I think it’s a testimony to our hard work and intention of having a very vibrant, current, relevant, diverse voting membership.”
This year’s Grammy ceremony will feature performances from first-timer Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover), as well as Lady Gaga, Little Big Town, Pink and a couple of Broadway favorites.
The show’s milestone 60th anniversary marks its return to New York for the first time in 15 years, so it makes sense that the grand dame of musical theater, Patti LuPone, a two-time Grammy winner, will reprise her 1981 Grammy performance of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” As well, Ben Platt, currently nominated for the soundtrack to “Dear Evan Hansen,” will perform a classic from “West Side Story” in tribute to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Leonard Bernstein.
Lady Gaga is expected to perform a track from her nominated “Joanne” album. In recent years, the Grammy Awards have become known for their creative pairing of artists (last year Gaga performed with Metallica in one of the highlights of the show), so the performance list will undoubtedly grow as the Jan. 28 ceremony gets closer.
The show will air live from Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m. on CBS. Last year’s ringleader, James Corden, returns as host.
While tickets start around $2,000 each, there are plenty of other events and free events to attend.
The AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! concert series returns on game day with Darius Rucker and opening act Brett Young. The event is free.
Fans planning to attend the National Championship ESPN Halftime Performance and Watch Party should plan to arrive at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park at 7 p.m. Monday. The game, which kicks off at 8 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, will be shown in the park on a large three-story tall screen. The event is non-ticketed and free to all fans.
The National Championship ESPN Halftime Performance and Watch Party will feature a live performance by seven-time Grammy Award winning artist Kendrick Lamar, which will be integrated into the halftime of ESPN’s telecast of the national championship game.
Playoff Fan Central is a 300,000 square-foot interactive experience that gives thousands of fans the opportunity to be a part of the College Football Playoff National Championship. The three-day, family-friendly event includes games, clinics, pep rallies, band performances, special guest appearances, autograph signings and exhibits celebrating college football and its history. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Kids 12 and under get in free with a ticketed adult.
This is the gathering place for fans who want to experience extreme tailgating at the College Football Playoff National Championship. With three days of outdoor activities, fans will have the opportunity to zip line, participate in free-fall stunt jumps and more.
The college football National Championship game is only hours away.
Here is a guide to what you need to know about the game, the teams, the president’s visit and the price of a ticket (hint: it’s really high).
The team, coaches, wives
President Trump’s visit
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