Kendrick Lamar @ The Hi-Fi 20.12.12

Kendrick Lamar @ The Hi-Fi
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

Many consider Kendrick Lamar to be the fastest rising star in the rap game. But his fans and, in particular, the man himself know he is more easily described as a dormant star that has burst into life and is only now being seen by earth.

The Hi-Fi hosted Kendrick Lamar this night and the sold out show was a literal melting pot of US rap infatuation. Brisbane’s DJ Butcher witnessed this eruption when he played tracks from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music compilation album Cruel Summer leading up to the Compton-based MC stepping onto the stage.

He came out hooded in a green trench coat and spotted black shorts. He looked out at the crowd from beneath the hood and began. His deep voice stood alone for the first three words of the song before the crowd recognised the track and backed him up. This crowd involvement was a trend for the entire show.

At the song's end, Kendrick flipped back the hood and smiled big and white. The crowd cheered as he looked out and around the room taking in his first moment on an Australian stage. The lights turned on the crowd as he stood watching the reaction to his show, absorbing it.

He welcomed us and offered appreciation for his fans. He spoke directly to those who had been there from the start of his career. He wanted to talk about his history and where he is from. People throughout the Hi-Fi react strongly to words like Compton and Dr Dre. It's a little Pavlovian.

The camera phones were out and he made eye contact with them, waving into each like it’s a personal thing. He walked from side to side touching the outstretched hands. The reaction to the compliments he heaped on Brisbane and the audience was deafening.

All of Kendrick Lamar’s older albums got a play as he showed intense respect for fans who had been listening from the start in 2003. It’s as if he has been expecting and waiting patiently for the gold record success this latest album has achieved. The crowd reacts like each new track is a direct favor given to them. We sweat and dance madly. He stands above wiping he forehead occasionally but seeming cool in the sweltering environment.

He charmingly tells us his original plan was to play all his old music, because he wasn’t sure if we would know the words to good kid m.A.A.d city yet as it was only released a month ago. He wasn’t sure if we liked it yet, but adds that he’ll oblige if that’s what we want to hear.

To the crowd’s delight he paused frequently and explained how fortunate he felt that we were reacting this way to such new music. He spoke more and connected with the drenched audience: “I will sweat with you, because you’ve been here from day one.” He offered more respect that fans all the way in Australia could be so wild and noted the distance from Brisbane to Compton seemed to make no difference.

Finally he says farewell and dips backstage. The curtain is closed and the house lights come up. The crowd has not had enough and stays for five minutes chanting the artist’s name. The pressure built and Kendrick Lamar finally wrestled his way through the curtains for one last song.

Being drowned out by the audience at some points of the performance is what most artists can only hope for. Kendrick Lamar has smart stage presence, he read and reacted to the crowd toasting the success he’s so deservedly receiving. Praising the crowd and finally ending the show, he spoke honestly.

"No matter how big I get, I'll always come back to this motherfucker."

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