words + photos by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)
None other the man of the night himself pointed out how long it had been since Glasgow last got a taste of Compton’s finest: since 2012, Kendrick Lamar went from being a relatively unknown rapper to crafting an album that could easily be picked up as A24 flick, another that redefined himself as a jazz fueled poet and a 2017 LP that somehow kept the golden run going all in the space of half a decade. To say expectations were high would be extremely undermining the anticipation for tonight’s performance with a queue forming from doors opening that didn’t die until minutes before Kung Fu Kenny himself appeared on stage.
Speaking of which, the DAMN. star certainly stayed true to his pseudonym: as opposed to the usual attire you’d expect a hip hop colossus to walk out in, Kendrick was donning the all black costume of a sensei, already making things feel very different from a superficial level. As the gig started off with D.N.A, a track that we picked as our favourite of 2017, any doubts that he wouldn’t be bringing his a-game to the Hydro tonight weren’t so much laid to rest but put six feet under the ground. The ferocity and slickness that Kendrick delivered in bucket-loads in the studio were here in abundance as well, his flow chugging along like a runaway train that nobody could stop; not that they’d want to.
As you may expect from a man masterminding the soundtrack to one of 2018’s biggest blockbuster films, the production value on display last night was utterly lavish: at various intervals, the audience were greeted with cinematics you’d expect from a Karate Kid reboot headed by Key & Peele or Tim & Eric, showing off the finesse and skill of a fictional Kendrick that was intentionally hyperbolic but not miles beyond the talent he showed throughout his set.
“Let’s find out who’s been here since Day 1” he proclaimed in a suspenseful manner, almost flat out stating that Hood Politics was on the cards and while it was sadly absent, the early cuts weren’t anything to shake your head at: Good Kid, m.A.A.d City got the playtime it deserved with Money Trees, Backseat Freestyle and more all being given the live treatment that transcended them and while To Pimp A Butterfly got left out a tad, King Kunta and Alright certainly banged just as hard as you would expect them too.
As the night came to a close, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed with awe that you were in the presence of an artist that is truly at his peak. This wasn’t helped by the aptly titled GOD being played on the encore and much like he did throughout last night, the sheer admiration present on Kendrick‘s face last night was undeniable: we saw for ourselves that he wasn’t shy about bigging himself up but it’s clear to see that the Hydro was witnessing a man just as in love with what he’s doing as his fans are, no doubt cherishing the unpredictable reactions his work incited.
To put it lightly, he was humble.