To be considered a legend in hip hop, an artist must earn their name next to the greats such as 2Pac, Nas, Jay-Z and The Notorious B.I.G. With the release of DAMN. (2017), Kendrick Lamar may have snagged an ever-lasting spot amongst royalty.
Considering Kendrick's position as part of the upper-echelon of hip hop, I knew that his DAMN. Tour was not going to be one to miss. On July 12, 2017, in Glendale, Arizona, Kendrick Lamar kicked off his arena tour with the help of fellow rappers DRAM and Travis Scott. I was lucky enough to be there, and it was jaw-dropping.
Although the show was a complete success, it’s worth noting that the night started on a sour note. DRAM took to the stage first with songs off his record, Big Baby DRAM. But DRAM was uninteresting; no one past the first two rows felt the music.
The set ended with DRAM’s only hit, “Broccoli,” which was the only time the audience seemed remotely entertained.
However, when Travis Scott took center stage, a flood of people ran back to their seats to watch his adrenaline-pumping performance.
Scott was welcomed with thunderous cheers and applause, and for the first few songs everything was going as planned.
With no warning, the arena lights dimmed and all that could be heard in the dark was the screech of an eagle. Large red eyes began to glow, and a spotlight illuminated a huge mechanical eagle flying down to meet Travis on stage. What I thought was going to be a silly stage prop actually became the stage, as Travis climbed up on the back of the eagle and performed the rest of the show above the crowd.
Travis Scott’s performance was flashy and full of pizzazz, but it was nothing compared to the star of the evening: Kung Fu Kenny himself.
Lamar’s set started off with a literal bang — the stage lit up with a huge pyrotechnic explosion. But just when you thought Kendrick might pop out of the floor or come in flying from the ceiling, he casually walked onto the stage from the side. Kendrick started to silently pace the empty stage back and forth. It seemed as if he was getting a feel for the audience, and just like a rocket he took off with one of the most intense songs in his arsenal: “DNA.”
From there he worked his way through his records Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, untitled unmastered., as well as his features from artists Future and ScHoolboy Q. I was a little let down, because Kendrick only played two songs from To Pimp A Butterfly: “King Kunta,” and “Alright.”
Toward the end of the set, Lamar performed the hit single “HUMBLE.” to an unparalleled five-minute chant from the crowd but left the stage to set up for the encore.
The show closed with two of his least-known songs: “FEEL” and “GOD.” If you have ever heard “FEEL,” Lamar has a full three-minute flow with almost no stop. When performed live, it was close to — if not better than — the song on the album.
Because Lamar explored so many of his albums during his show, it seemed as if this tour was his victory lap around the genre and a celebration for releasing four classic albums in a row. The show I attended was the first of the DAMN. Tour. There are still shows coming to cities near Albuquerque, and I cannot recommend this show enough.
Colton Newman is a contributing writer for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Instagram @cnewman101.