The rapper from Compton put on a tight show Tuesday night at the Tacoma Dome, seething across the stage before the rabid, sold-out crowd.
With a fiery, cathartic performance at the Tacoma Dome Tuesday night, Kendrick Lamar reaffirmed what most of the rabid, sold-out crowd seemed to accept as gospel: the Compton native is the best rapper in the game now.
In a tight 80-minute set, Lamar seethed across the simply presented stage, every word laced with the kind of anger that exposed the posturing of a lot of mainstream rap as silly and forced. He started off with a literal bang as a series of loud explosions welcomed “DNA,” off this year’s instant classic “DAMN.”
“I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA,” Lamar spat as the crowd screamed the lyrics back at him and a ninja with a sword danced dangerously close. “I got hustle though, ambition, flow, inside my DNA.”
It was hard to doubt Lamar, who for most of the night was the lone figure on stage. He prowled across the stage as he launched into “King Kunta,” a piece of driving funk from his 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly” that was ill-served by what was an unsurprisingly poor sound mix. The Tacoma Dome does well for a wide variety of genres, but the bass-heavy nature of rap beats made for a pretty consistently muddled sound, though at least Lamar’s voice was fairly clear.
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While unfortunate, Tuesday was a rare instance in which sound issues didn’t manage to detract from the show in a major way. That was largely thanks to the intimate connection Lamar and his fans seemed to share, and the fact at least half the crowd happily (and impressively) rapped along to every lyric through the night.
Things got back on track quickly with “Mask Off” and “Collard Greens,” a pair of covers from Future and Schoolboy Q that Lamar contributed bars to. The introspective exploration of alcoholism in “Swimming Pools (Drank)” turned into a call-and-response party song, but that was more because of how determined people seemed to not let Wednesday morning ruin a fun time Tuesday night.
Lamar played up the relationship he has with his fans on “LOYALTY,” another song from “DAMN,” reminding them “you rollin’ with it at the right time, right now.” The audience rewarded his sentiment as he closed the show with his hit single “HUMBLE” by roaring the lyrics until Lamar suspended the music and let them serenade him a cappella.
It was a cool moment and the show could have ended there to the immense satisfaction of all involved, but Lamar came back for another one in “GOD” as many in the delirious crowd started to make their way to the exits.
Rappers Travis Scott and D.R.A.M. opened and did their part whipping things into a fever pitch.