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Gig Review: Kendrick Lamar

By | Published February 26, 2018

Kendrick Lamar is undoubtedly one of the biggest artists in the world right now. So, when I heard about him heading to Birmingham Genting arena, there was no chance I was going to miss it. This show was part of the DAMN tour, and it was obvious this show was based on the characters and themes brought up in his magnificent 4th album. Kendrick Lamar played the entire show as his latest persona Kung-Fu Kenny. Before any song even started, Kendrick got the crowd going with a video of Kung-Fu Kenny showing off his moves, a feature that was common throughout the night. The hype amongst the crowd builds up as they wait for the man to come on stage. The video slowly transfers into a fox news clip. The audience immediately recognises that it’s from the start of DNA. The clip ends, fireworks erupt from the back of the stage. Kendrick appears and kicks off one of the greatest nights of my life.

The second DNA starts, the entire crowd erupts. Everyone in the standing area starts going insane, not a single person in the arena is standing still. Everyone knows all the words and furiously raps along with Kendrick. The atmosphere of the gig was set in about half a second. Kendrick swiftly moves on to ELEMENT, now standing on his own, owning the massive stage. Kendrick then moves from banger to banger. Playing legendary songs like King Kunta, Swimming Pools (Drank) and m.A.A.d city. The highlight of the gig was without a doubt HUMBLE. This song is without a doubt Kendrick’s biggest of the year, and he knows it. He starts the song normally, the crowd goes wild, mosh pits form left and right. But, after the “my left stroke just went viral” line is spoken, the music cuts out. Kendrick stops rapping, the beat stops playing, but the arena does not go silent. Kendrick lets the crowd rap his biggest song for him. The audience raps the entire song acapella, Kendrick steps in on a few lines to help the crowd go along. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this moment, the sound of a thousand voices all singing together. The track finishes up, but Kendrick quickly restarts it, and this time the music doesn’t cut out. Kendrick finishes the song and walks off the stage, but he isn’t done yet. He quickly returns and finishes the night off with GOD, giving the audience one final sing along.

Something that made this gig stand out was Kendrick’s use of the arena. Halfway through the set, Kendrick moved to a second stage in the middle of the standing area. It rises him high above the crowd during the song PRIDE. This elevates the mode of the song to a new level as he slowly ascends to the point where no one in the crowd can miss him. The use of videos and samples of songs from DAMN are cleverly used to give Kendrick time to take breaks and move from one stage to another. The way the stage lighting and setup was used in a way so that for the crowd the gig never stopped.

Kendrick proved himself as best rapper around at the moment. For the majority of the gig, he was the only person on the stage, but his presence filled the entire arena with so much energy. The gig left me looking like I had just run a marathon, but I didn’t care. I had just seen the greatest gig of my life.