The hip-hop star, who led all nominees heading into Sunday night’s show with eight nods, opened the ceremony with renditions of his hits “DNA” and “Humble” on a stage covered in fire, as stunt performers ran up a wall of flames.
Kendrick’s longtime collaborator and music video director Dave Free reveals the sizzling set was something he had wanted to pull off for the hitmaker’s current DAMN tour, but limitations on their insurance contract meant they had to can the idea – until the VMAs.
“The insurance policy didn’t cover it,” Free laughed to MTV backstage at the California ceremony. “So VMAs came through for the insurance policy. Everything worked out so we’re just blessed to be a part of it here tonight.”
The fiery performance kicked off a triumphant night for Kendrick, Free, and their fellow collaborator, filmmaker Dave Meyers, as the rapper won six awards, including Best Direction, Best Visual Effects, and the coveted Video of the Year for “Humble.”
After collecting his sixth prize with Free and Meyers by his side, Kendrick told MTV he was in awe of the recognition.
“We’ve been rockin’ together for years…,” he said. “I’ve been watching (Meyers) since ninth grade, so to be on this stage, on this platform, in this moment, is a surreal moment for sure.”
“Humble” also earned Kendrick and his team the Best Hip Hop Video, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction honors