Last night’s 58th Grammy awards saw perhaps one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time from Compton rapper, Kendrick Lamar. Obviously, you can find this footage anywhere online and whilst the quality isn’t that great here, I felt it important enough to post for those who might stumble upon the site to check out. It also gave me an excuse to draw Kendrick.
I’m not going to lie and say I’d been on his work since the mixtape days but with his debut album, I knew he was paving the way for new ground. Section.80 is one of my favourite hip hop albums and probably always will be. Conceptually driven, as with all of his projects, Kendrick melds true artistry (talking about his skillset) with socio-political commentary. GKMC arguably elevated the status of his body of work by changing up aural accessibility.
His latest project took a more Section.80-esque approach, returning to the jazz , funk and soul roots. He creates music that really matters and speaks with purpose. This is distilled neatly in the way Don Cheadle introduces him (unfortunately not in the clip fully) and the way the crowd look upon him post performance. It’s inevitable that what he’s doing and will undoubtably continue to do, will be remembered. Taking home 5 gongs from 11 nominations this year is just the beginning.
Here, Kendrick performs a little medley with two cuts from “To Pimp A Butterfly” and capped off by a new track “Untitled 3”. The past few new tracks he’s performed live are from a body of work that couldn’t make it out for a plethora of reasons such as sample clearances. The staging is fantastic. Shuffling out, shackled in chains and prison attire, he creates an overtly provocative image, both challenging and celebrating his and thousands of other’s cultural heritage while performing "Blacker The Berry".
“Alright” see perhaps a more celebratory outing this time, infused with African themed glow in the dark dancing, compared to the controversial BET performance from last year. The new track ends with some poignant words and imagery. The final line, “Conversation for the entire nation this is bigger than us”. An outline of the African continent emblazoned with the word “COMPTON” brings home the message. Pent up frustration, injustice, disenchantment and painting institutional racism as a new form slavery. This is an important performance for so many reasons and well worth hitting play. Cheers for reading.