Watch Kendrick Lamar’s fiery performance of “DNA” and "Humble" to the VMAs (VIDEO).

Kendrick Lamar Brought Kung Fu Kenny and Flames to His Explosive VMAs Performance

Kendrick Lamar Brought Kung Fu Kenny and Flames to His Explosive VMAs Performance

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 27 2017 8:54 PM

Kendrick Lamar Brought Kung Fu Kenny and Flames to His Explosive VMAs Performance

2017-MTV-Video-Music-Awards--Fixed-Show_1
Kendrick, on fire.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Kendrick Lamar kicked off the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night, and as expected, he brought intensity and stunning visuals to his performance. Rapping the hits from his latest album, “DNA” and “Humble,” Lamar commanded a stage awash first in a cascade of laser beams, and then kung fu–outfitted breakdancers and flames. This is not the first time he's played with fire while performing—in his particularly memorable showstopper at the 2016 Grammy Awards, he and his background dancers danced around a huge bonfire in a montage that powerfully evoked police brutality, mass incarceration, and Black Lives Matter.

While those hot-button topics were not at the forefront of this VMAs appearance, it was still a sight to witness, as his lyrical dexterity and the Kung Fu dancers—who climbed an enflamed net behind him—started the show on a high note.

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture writer and host of the Slate podcast Represent.