A year ago, Compton-born Kendrick Lamar was a small underground hip-hop artist with notoriety amongst the “green”-loving teenagers for his album Section.80. Last weekend, the 24-year-old played an early afternoon Friday set to a devout following of fans. But it was his performance on Sunday night with the venerable Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre–who has claimed Lamar as his newest protegé–that sealed the deal on Lamar’s success.
With some of the biggest names in hip-hop touting his excellence as a rapper, Kendrick Lamar’s second Coachella weekend set was even more packed with an eccentric assortment of stylish hipsters, hip-hop heads swagged out in neon-colored muscle tees and sneaks, and “norms” coming to check Lamar out after hearing about his guest appearance last Sunday. Lamar seemed very aware of the difference between his first weekend turn-out and second weekend turn-out.
“I see a lot of Day One supporters,” said Lamar to the audience baking under the mid-day sun. “Gonna do some Day One old-school sh*t.”
Part of a hip hop collective called Black Hippy, the “hippy” being àpropos for the Coachella climate, Lamar was joined by one part of the collective, Jay Rock. Lamar kept dropping the name of his record label, Top Dawg Entertainment, which is now part of Interscope Records and Aftermath Entertainment.
Lamar’s lyrics are so literate and raw that he could be considered the West Coast version of Nas. For many hip-hop artists, the songs are all about the beats; for Kendrick Lamar, they’re about the meaning. Lamar has also stated that Tupac Shakur, who joined Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in hologram form last Sunday, is one of his favorite rappers and that poetic, literate style that Pac used shows readily in the young rapper’s performance.
“I think it’s about time to take it to the next level,” said Lamar after performing “Pu**y and Patron.” “Anyone want to get f**ked up with me after the show?” Lamar then went into a freestyle of the song before performing “She Needs Me” and “Hood Gone Love” with Black Hippy partner, Jay Rock.
Before performing “Faith,” Lamar got quiet saying that he was going to “contain this energy” and that the audience should “pay attention to the lyrics if they do anything else.”
“This is a moment and you are all part of this sh*t. This is international. This is ‘Hiii Power,” said Lamar sincerely before launching into a version of the song and then singing one of his hits, “I Am,” rapping the lyrics “My plan be to win your heart before I win a Grammy.”
As evidenced by Coachella Weekend Two, Lamar has done a pretty good job of that.
Nadia Nior, CBS Radio Los Angeles