Kendrick Lamar’s Fiery Performance and More VMAs Highlights

By Sameer Rao Aug 28, 2017

Music industry elite and up-and-comers alike arrived at The Forum in Inglewood, California, last night (August 27) for the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs). Here are a few must-see moments from the show:

Kendrick Lamar’s (Literally) Flame-Worthy Opening Performance, Six Wins

Kendrick Lamar kicked off the night with a performance of "DNA" and "Humble," two standouts from his latest album, "DAMN." The performance featured, among other visual spectacles, a cameo from a sword-wielding martial artist who took the stage while on fire.

K-Dot entered last night’s ceremony with eight nominations—more than any other artist this year—and beat out the competition as his "Humble" video earned six wins in the following categories: Hip-Hop Video, Art Direction, Direction, Visual Effects, Cinematography and Video of the Year. 

Paris Jackson Calls Out White Supremacist Violence
The King of Pop’s daughter took a moment before introducing "Best Pop Video" nominees to specifically call out the White supremacist violence in Charlottesville. MTV did not publish video of her remarks online, but here they are as quoted by The Washington Post

Let’s leave here tonight remembering that we must show these Nazi White supremacist jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country that as a nation with liberty as our slogan, we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination.

Gaby Wilson Interviews Trans Active Military Members

In a response to the U.S. military’s recent decision to bar trans people from service, MTV News’ Gaby Wilson spoke to four trans active service members—two of whom are people of color. 

Cardi B’s Shoutout to Colin Kaepernick
Rapper Cardi B took time to show solidarity with NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick‘s ongoing advocacy against police violence and racism. "Colin Kaepernick, as long as you kneel with us, we’re gonna be standing for you,” she said, as quoted by Uproxx.

Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid Perform Ode to Suicide Prevention

Two emergent young artists of color, rapper Logic and singer Khalid, joined forces with singer Alessia Cara and a string ensemble to perform "1-800-273-8255," which frames suicide as a cultural issue and is named for a widely-used suicide prevention hotline.

Racial Justice-Focused Songs and Videos Dominate "Best Fight Against the System" Category
Every video nominated in the "Best Fight Against the System" social justice-focused category earned the award. Five of those six winners—John Legend’s "Surefire," Taboo ft. Shaliene Woodley’s "Stand Up/Stand Up N Rock #NoDAPL," Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson’s "Black SpiderMan," The Hamilton Mixtape’s "Immigrants" and Big Sean ft. Jeremih’s "Light"—specifically address police violence, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, xenophobic policies and other major racial justice issues.

Watch more highlights and read a full winners’ list at