When real Hip Hop is a dying art form, it’s always refreshing to see an artist like Kendrick Lamar. Through a four-album discography and six-year career, Kendrick has slowly become of the greats of his generation. With his latest album DAMN released this past April, Lamar continues to impress and give fans pure lyricism. Rap Phenom and Compton native Kendrick Lamar brought his highly anticipated “DAMN” Tour to the Verizon Center on Friday, July 21 2018, to a gracious DMV audience. The sold-out tour solidifies Kendrick’s position as one of the mainstream rap superstars.
Before Kendrick graced the stage, the DMV was treated to opening act D.R.A.M. While I may be a music fanatic, D.R.A.M. was an artist whose music I wasn’t that familiar with at all. The Hampton, VA native gave an energetic performance. While I won’t rush out to buy any of his music, I won’t deny his ability to excite a crowd.
Travis Scott was supposed to be the second opening act. However, about five minutes before his set, the audience was informed that Scott would not perform due to unforeseen circumstances. While I am by no means a diehard fan of Scott, I was looking forward to hearing his signature song “Antidote,” live as it’s one of my guilty pleasures.
The night was all about Kendrick for me, though. Due to both shows selling out, I missed his last two area appearances. Thanks to a family friend, though, I can now cross Kendrick off my artists’ bucket list to see live. Before Kendrick graced the stage, his alter ego, Kung Fu Kenny, made an appearance via the jumbotron stage. Without a hype man to introduce Lamar, it was a risk for novice fans. Lamar but a gamble that paid off. Opening the show with “D.N.A.,” Kendrick immediately showed a stage presence of a seasoned pro.
Dressed in a yellow suit, which recalled Bruce Lee’s iconic suit from Game of Death. Karate was a prominent theme of the night. As opposed to background dancers, Lamar chose to have martial artists on stage. Likewise, his band was nowhere to be seen (throughout the show, a screen instructed the audience to look to where his band was playing).
As this was the DAMN tour, Lamar spent most of the show focusing on that album. Only two songs, “Alright” and “King Kunta” from Lamar’s classic “To Pimp A Butterfly,” made their way into the setlist. Lamar did take the time to do songs from his sophomore album good kid, madd city. Fan favorites “Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Swimming Pools” were met with thunderous applause. Lamar also took time to perform his verses from some of his featured appearances. The Schoolboy Q collaboration “Collard Greens and Future’s Mask Off were both highlights of the night.
One of the tour’s unique aspects is the short film The Damn Legend of Kung Fu Kenny. The short film, which serves as an homage to the eighties classic, The Last Dragon, shows Lamar as a novice who finally becomes a master. There’s a closing shot in the film, which shows Kendrick smiling as he’s found the glow and become a master. I, for one, am hoping that Lamar does a musical down the road of some sorts, as the tour indicated that Lamar seems to have a flair for cinematography and visuals.
Closing out the show with his hit “HUMBLE,” it’s evident that Lamar has achieved superstar status. Mid song, Lamar cut the music and let the audience rap his verses. Seeing Lamar on stage with a smile of appreciation and not arrogance on his face, Lamar truly has earned the right to be called King Kendrick.
Final Grade A