Kendrick Lamar “The DAMN. Tour” Review
Kendrick Lamar, since the release of his classic album good kid, m.a.a.d. city, has been one of - if not the best - rappers alive. On his current tour, Kendrick Lamar is trying to blend some of the more show like aspects of other concerts with his more straight forward rap style. Not to say the show isn’t good, but Kendrick Lamar should stick to what he’s best at.
For starters, the openers on the tour are DRAM, who is hard to enjoy when he only has two real hits, and Travis Scott. There is little to say about DRAM other than he has an incredible voice which shines in an arena as large as the one I saw him in at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, but he needs more hits.
Travis Scott is a much more interesting story. For one, he has learned from Kanye West in the school of making your show a spectacle. About half way through he had this massive bird hanging from the rafters, which he proceed to climb on to and perform from. I have no problems with spectacles, but I do have a problem when the artist does not sound good and several songs during Travis Scott’s set sounded bad. The standout there is the opener from Travis Scott’s last album Birds in the Trap, Sing Brian McKnight “the ends,” which sounded absolutely terrible with the auto tune Travis Scott uses.
And that was not the only case of the auto tune not sounding up to par. “Pick up the phone,” one of Scott’s biggest songs, sounded not up to the quality I expect from him. Same goes for the track “sweet sweet,” another standout from Scott’s last album.
That is not to say other songs didn’t sound great. “Goosebumps” was Travis Scott at his absolute best, as well as “Antidote.” Overall, he was a good opener, but Scott definitely has some fine tuning to do on his auto tune.
Then it was time for Kendrick Lamar. He opens with a video as “Kung Fu Kenny” showing him in martial arts training, then rises from the floor. Then the familiar Fox News clip from his album DAMN. plays, which leads directly into “DNA.” The one thing I can say about Kendrick Lamar is every song sounded like it does on the album. He has incredible breathe control and is able to rap every word to every song.
At one point Lamar moved to the center of the arena and was on this very strange caged platform where he performed some more of his hits, which there are a surprising amount of if based solely on Billboard numbers.
But a big complaint about his set that I had was the stage changes. When Lamar moved from main stage to the center area, or when they changed up the main stage to have the main screen more tilted, these cut scenes of “Kung Fu Kenny” training would play, and in some cases an artistic martial arts performance would happen on stage. It was very clunky and awkward and added dead air in between his songs, which I do not think anyone is looking for in their concert going experiences.
When Lamar was performing, he was top notch. When he tried to get into the theatrics of a performance in 2017 is where issues came in. It is something he may have to fine tune, or should maybe just abandon altogether. He is such an incredible rapper, that he should just let that aspect of him do all of the talking. But it is still strange to think he could not come up with something that flowed better, especially after having seen his 2016 Grammy performance.
The show as a whole was good, not great. When comparing it to other big shows, it does not put a candle to what Kanye West is able to do on a stage and in my lifetime is not better than what I saw Run the Jewels do. But Kendrick Lamar can learn from this and should learn from his peers like Run the Jewels and maybe perform at smaller venues despite his popularity because it plays better to what he is best at: getting a crowd hype through his raps alone.
David Arroyo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.