Venue: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Date: March 21, 2016
King Kendrick wows Rod Laver Arena to unforgettable and riveting results.
An electric and eager crowd on this particular Monday night, Kamasi Washington prefaces Rod Laver Arena with his experimentally driven and blues orientated jazz to the ears of thousands of attendees. Fresh from his debut album in last year, The Epic strived to dismantle the conventions of jazz, reinvigorating the genre within ensemble and challenging melodies in a three-disc collection. Kamasi Washington delivered an awe striking and revitalizing form to jazz, unequivocally having his audience in astonishment and veneration.
Helming his primary sounds of the saxophone, Washington’s elevated sounds accompany him alongside a dazzling band featuring double basses, trumpets and two (count them!) drum kits, offering a clashing of melodies in the undeterred regions of jazz. The saxophonist to the big act’s recent album, To Pimp a Butterfly, exemplified the amalgamating factions of jazz and hip-hop. And Washington’s performance tonight proved himself a quintessential element to the artist’s unforgettable sound. A stellar introduction to the night ahead, Kamasi’s set tapped off perfectly as the esteemed saxophonist brought out his “pops” for a jam and two for his track The Rhythm Changes.
“Kendrick, Kendrick!” as the crowds grows restless, only for the phase “We gon’ be alright!” to follow. Dragging along his microphone to stand center stage, Kendrick Lamar paces to and fro the crowd and his accompanying band. Teasing the crowd almost, Lamar tests the audience’s patience, all the while glaring over the monumental crowd on this particular March evening. That is until his first remarks for the night are uttered to an extreme reception, only for his audience to chant along:
“This dick ain’t free.”
Kendrick raps his way into the heart and ears of the excitable crowd. Melbourne, the home of his most loyal fans as he proclaimed, delivered a truly unforgettable experience for Lamar. Sweeping the floor of the Grammys with eleven nominations earlier this year, To Pimp A Butterfly and its influential impact was out on display at Melbourne’s most beloved arena. The magnum opus of his career raised a defining benchmark of hip-hop culture, cultivating in forms of jazz, blues and spoken word poetry all whilst forging a bond between Kendrick’s voice and sound to the heart of the night’s audience.
Politically charged, personally revolved and socially relevant, Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly makes its stamp loud and proud. Initiating the night with the infamous interlude in For Free?, Lamar’s set list ensured the statement and charged relevance of his recent record are projected for all open ears to let in. Introduced early to the night, Lamar’s entrusted band slowly jazzes along to These Walls, encapsulating a toe-tapping drum line, a funky five-strung bass and minuscule guitar melody to monumental proportions.
Here, Lamar’s audience is treated to popularized anthems in i, the aggressive and exclaimed lyrics of King Kunta and finally, the socially and politically fueled anthem of the generation in Alright. A chant projected with immediacy and progression, “We gon’ be alright” shatters across the crowd as Lamar, perspiring and sweating, grins to his eager crowd and strikes right into the title track. A set list that pleases Lamar’s most die-hard fans however, some question the absence of How Much a Dollar Cost?, a heavy and a defining track in Lamar’s acclaimed work.
But the night would be remiss without revisiting the defining chapters in the praised rapper’s effervescing career. Vocalizing along to the man’s quick fire rapping techniques, the crowd sings without neither haste nor pause along to the tracks of Lamar. To even witness a crowd of thousands, heavenly scream along to without a care, “I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower, so I can fuck the world for 72 hours”, remains a testament to Lamar’s stamp to the music.
A personal photograph from his life of Compton, California, Lamar raps with heart and ambition of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, annihilating the rapid stylings of Backstreet Freestyle, to the chilled environment of Swimming Pools (Drank) and eventually having his crowd at crazed and mosh levels of trance in M.A.A.D city. From the surprisingly well versed in Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe and fan favourite in Money Trees, Lamar ensured the album that started it all made a clear and loud appearance Monday night.
Thanking his accompanying band, his fan base, and we the audience, Lamar contends to the importance of music. A controversial headliner act chosen for the forthcoming Bluesfest, Lamar asserts, “You are the voice. I am your voice. We are in the shit together for the long run.” Poignant and unforgettable, the statements run rampart to the hearts of his ever-excitable crowd. Music bellows in cyclical motions, and his statements envelop the importance of music – an influence, a memory and a cure.
Maintaining an O.G status for the evening, Lamar concludes with a trip down to Section 80 with A.D.H.D. One of Lamar’s early tracks of his blossoming career, he raps within quick confines in catchy and melodic fashion as Lamar forges a bond with his Melbourne crowd once again. Remixing the track for the audience, Lamar’s backing guitarist drops an amazing finger-tapping guitar solo, riveting the crowd to astonishment as Lamar’s chorus ranges for a moment of brilliance. Free styling his show to a concluding and impeccable manner, Lamar blesses the sound, the audience and the legacy and importance of his a stamp in this world. If the night proved anything, Lamar’s unimpeachable and flawless performance exclaimed the true meaning of music, from one of the greatest of the generation and the reigning king of hip-hop today.
“Pimp pimp, hooray!” for King Kendrick.