I’ve gone to four concerts this year, one of them a dubstep show, the other three various hip hop acts. While I can honestly say that Hip Hop may not be my favorite genre to view live (EDM takes the cake in that respect), what I can say is that going to these shows is well worth the experience of not only supporting an artist, but getting to see how people enjoy the music within a large body. Most of the people I know don’t take to hip hop as much as I do, which makes my involvement in DEHH that much sweeter: I get to converse about and celebrate the culture with so many fellow rap fans, and across the globe at that!
But nevertheless, I can safely say that after seeing Kendrick Lamar in concert this 1:00 in the morning, it’s pretty clear that I am nowhere near the biggest fan living in Houston. Either that or I’m not obnoxious enough to annoy others in my excitement. No matter how its spliced, the fact that an artist can appeal to a large swath of groups intrigues me much.
Enough prologue! Tell us about the concert!
When I arrived at House of Blues, the line was so long that people occupied two whole floor. While getting to the end of the line was a bit of a chore, it was a pretty short wait, and I was soon inside to meet a large multitude of young people, old people, Blacks, Whites, maybe even a Martian or two. The place was packed pretty fierce and only got worse, so I was lucky enough to find a spot between pot-smoker and short pot-smoker. Weed use is a trope in hip hop (have you listened to the lyrics?!) so it wasn’t a shock, I just didn’t want to inhale what smelled like burnt camel hair for four hours.
I did, however, like how the smoke swirled in the lightwork as the DJ, DJ Mr. Rogers, played tunes to tide us over. He had a pretty solid mix of Houston hitters like UGK, Slim Thug, Z-ro et al, and of course played the “hottest hits.” While I generally package some of those songs in the category of “meh,” there’s quite the disparity between hearing them via headphones and hearing them in a palatial setting. This just in: no one cares that Trinidad James is the newest “OHMYGODHIPHOPISDEADBECAUSEOFTHISGUY Award” recipient, and the same went for 2 Chainz, A$AP Rocky, Chief Keef, and whatever other bane to society you could think of. Although I still conldn’t dig the Lil’ Wayne tracks. Just ugh lol.
After how long, the promoters and DJ started to hype up the first act — the lovely, splendiferous, cute, cool, effervescent, vivacious R&B stylings of Jhene Aiko! — which did not go as well as I had hoped.
Firstly, it was great to become a fan of an artist and see them live within the span of three months. Her song “Stranger” alone was enough for me to keep sight of her work, but her entire mixtape, Sailing Souls, was the first R&B project in a while to transcend more than a cop-and-feel approach. I’m going to review Trilogy later for those same reasons.
But while I dug her set, it was pretty damn clear that very few in the crowd held that same opinion. They could care less about her playing a new song off of her upcoming album, or that her rendition of Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” was solid. They clapped and feigned excitement when necessary, but the energy screamed “STOP STALLING FOR KENDRICK!” It seems odd, since she was on the bill and people knew what they were buying, but the power from the crowd is just as important, maybe even more so, at a hip hop concert. At least she played “Stranger.”
After a short interval in which Ali (aka “You Thirsty On Twitter” Ali) set up his DJ doohicky and it was announced that Big K.R.I.T. and Kirko Bangz were in the building, Kendrick hit the stage with a raucous performance of “Westside, Right On Time.” The crowd lost their shit while he was rapping backstage!
We all know that Kendrick’s short in stature and quite reserved, but none of that matter when he assumes control of the mic. I’ve said many times that Hip Hop’s greatest asset is giving power to those who would otherwise go unheard, and that night was a huge confirmation of that theory. From song to song, he jumped around, engaged us without a lick of artifice.
And yes, he spits just as heavy, just as fast, just as energetic as he does on those respective tracks, sometimes a bit more in terms of his more subdued tracks. The only noticeable gripe I can call on the performance would be the set up. Since he played two shows (which is pretty friggin’ awesome, although not a rare thing), it simply gave some concertgoers another chance to occupy space, shout back when Kendrick spoke to the crowd in a pseudo-gospel fashion, or simply try to push, push, push, push, push, push, PUSH their way to the front, not understanding that the place was tighter than a sardine can before they got there in the first place. Hehe, I can’t entirely fault them for such ambition.
I enjoyed myself, and the crowd did as well. As I mentioned on the Facebook page, catch this guy live. Scratch that — catch any artist that has stirred your soul as much as this guy has live. But no matter what, hopefully this gets blasted loud in an ampitheatre near you someday:
Kendrick Set List – “Westside, Right On Time,” “A.D.H.D.,” “P & P,” “Fuckin’ Problems” “Money Trees,” “Tammy’s Song,” “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” Freestyle, “Backseat Freestyle,” “Cut You Off,” “Chapter Six,” “m.A.A.d city,” “Interlude” from EP, “Blow My High,” “Cartoons & Cereal”