Kendrick Lamar at Rough Trade East
It is a special kind of artist who takes the time to perform at the national treasure that is Rough Trade East; especially when the huge hype that surrounds the artist creates a lack of expectation for them to perform humble in-stores. Therefore, it was no surprise when this extremely rare gig, for Dr Dre’s latest protégé, sold-out in a matter of days.
Good Kid, M.a.a.d. City is an album that has gained startlingly shocking universal acclaim. So, it’s little wonder that there was a huge queue outside Rough Trade East an hour before his performance. Not for people hoping to grab a last minute wristband, but for those who had already bought the album.
When Kendrick came on stage, the venue was busy beyond belief. He opened with the super-chilled Money Trees, and the crowd went berserk. They were clearly finding it hard to fathom that this atypical alternative rapper, with substantial commercial approval, was playing in such an intimate venue.
Interacting with the crowd throughout the very brief gig, asking what they wanted to hear, Lamar was remarkably open and friendly; casually dismissing the individuals who shouted for him to perform the entire record. Of course he was only doing an in-store, yet he stayed longer than the three-song set advertised on the website, and performed an excerpt from a forth song.
The album is full of songs that are longer than your typical hip-hop/pop pieces, so Lamar was forced to perform quick passages for the show – but this worked entirely in his favour. He switched quickly from the über-smooth Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, to the club-friendly, hectic Backstreet Freestyle. Lamar had the crowd moving with effortless enthusiasm, thanks to his tremendous charisma.
Closing with the first half of the frantic M.a.a.d. City, he then made it clear that he was delighted to be doing an in-store, hurrying round the crowd for signings at the front of the shop.
Refreshing, yet probably rare, it is always commendable when an artist – no matter how colossal his record label is – doesn’t feel that they’re above in-store gigs. Lamar happily performed to promote a record that he deems (with very plausible evidence) to become a classic.
Matt Di Salvo
To listen to the album, click here.
Watch the video for Swimming Pools (Drank) here: