Despite not dropping a full-length LP in 4 years, there was no shortage of praise for west coast hip-hops reclusive chieftain.
On November 12th Kendrick Lamar closed out Friday night of the Day n Vegas music festival alongside other headliners such as Tyler, the Creator and Travis Scott (who cancelled his scheduled performance following the Astroworld tragedies). Lamar’s set was not only his lone scheduled performance for the year but also the first time he touched a stage in 2 years. However, instead of a typical music festival set centred around crowd-pleasing hits, Kung-fu Kenny opted to perform tracks from his entire decade-long catalogue. As the poster suggested, Lamar delivered a production spilt into 4 parts; dedicating time to each of his studio albums from his debut LP Section.80 all the way to his PulitzerPrize winning album Damn.
The Compton emcee took the stage wearing an all-white outfit consisting of a knit sweater with a cap containing shoulder-length braids; playing the role of a hip-hop messiah. Background performers dressed in maroon suits with white facepaint crept onto the stage as K-dot kicked off his set with the Section.80 track “F*ck Your Ethnicity”. As he worked through the 10-year old debut albums tracklist performing well-known hits such as “A.D.H.D” and lesser-known deep cuts like “Ronald Regan Era” Lamar acknowledged his absence from the spotlight. He repeated the phrase “365 days times 2 since I’ve seen you” before kicking off the second portion of the performance with the Grammy-nominated sophomore album Good Kid Maad City. Lamar fed of the energetic crowd as they chanted his hit “Backseat Freestyle” line for line, while a charming youngster took the stage and boogied to “Swiming Pools”. The retrospective theme of the performance was perfectly complemented by the imaginative atmosphere that was built thanks to stark visual cues. As Lamar would shift into a new portion of the show, the screen behind him would illuminate; displaying a few lines of text that detailed his mindset and inspiration during the album in question. Moreover, the rotating background performers that joined Lamar on stage would contribute to whatever song was playing. For instance, during “m.A.A.d City” flashlights were used to simulate a police raid coinciding with the track’s theme of corrupt law enforcement. Lamar executed pieces his Grammy-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly and began to wrap things up with tracks from his last LP 2017’s Damn, where the audience was graced with a surprise appearance from Baby Keem. The duo performed their new singles that were released earlier this year “Range Brothers” & “Family Ties”, with a few more added ad-libs that allowed their family chemistry to shine. For the grand finale Lamar performed a soft-spoken rendition of the epic Good Kid Maad City track “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst” while the background performers gathered behind him posing in family portrait style.
Throughout the hour and a half long set, there was no talking from Lamar besides a few calls for world peace and crowd engagement. The laser-focused performance served as a warm reminder of what an impressive hip-hop legacy the Compton-native has left at only 34-years old with a mere 4 studio LPs under his belt. His discouraging yet expected update back in August that only one upcoming album is left with his label TDE exemplified that the Kdot we’ve known throughout the last decade is embarking on a new chapter in his career. Regardless of the artist’s uncertain future, his performance was a well-deserved trip down memory lane at a unique brand of musical creativity that helped set a new standard for hip-hop artists. Lamar is set to perform this year’s Superbowl halftime show alongside some other hip-hop OG’s such as Snoop Dogg and Dr.Dre but aside from that, there is yet to be any news surrounding his upcoming album. He closed out his Day n Vegas performance by ensuring fans that they hadn’t seen the last of him: “Vegas, till next time, and when I say ‘next time’ — very soon.”.