Concert Reviews

Hood Loved It: Kendrick Lamar Gets Intimate at Trees

Kendrick Lamar Trees Thursday, January 19

Since the last time Kendrick Lamar graced a Dallas stage, his star has only been on the rise. His most recent mix tape, Section.80, has garnered buzz, rave reviews and a spot on Drake's upcoming tour with ASAP Rocky. That's one buzzy tour, but the party last night was all about Kendrick Lamar.

Walking into Trees, I barely got past the entrance before I was stuck behind the first crowd of kids (no, really, this was an all-ages show) and realized just how crowded the space was. More crowded than I have seen it since the late '90s? Not much room to dance, but certainly more than enough space to put our hands in the sky. Ya know, if we didn't give a fuck.

The DJ spun a pretty West-Coast heavy set, hyping the crowd for the Compton-born artist for nearly an hour as we waited. He has an impressive and vocal fan club of Cali veterans, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog and the Game, who have passed a literal torch to Lamar as he reps for a new generation.

As Ian Cohen noted, in his April review on West Coast Sound, Lamar cuts are "clearly meant for crowd interaction." It's true, even of his early work, but specifically cuts off Section.80.

"Tammy's Song," Lamar's ode to bad men doing wrong, sounded better sung in unison with the crowd, the back and forth of the hook taking on a stronger, more cathartic tone. "A.D.H.D." and "P&P" were predictable crowd favorites and nearly every person in the crowd rhymed along word-for-word. Jay Rock crashed the party briefly to perform "Hood Gon' Love This," and the duo's chemistry ignited when Rock landed a back flip onstage. "Fuck Your Ethnicity" jumped off the night, white kids in the house screaming to the hook the loudest, but that song's swagger always impresses and when the DJ drops out the beat, you're just reminded how articulate Lamar's bragging can be.

His anecdotes were witty and he connected the 17-song set with stories about his family and adorable impressions of his father. His Twitter gag, where he takes a few requests, didn't quite come to fruition, so he just let the audience holler favorites until he heard the track he wanted to perform. A highlight was Lamar calling out a lanky teenager in the front who he noticed, "knew the words to every track I'm doing." So Lamar brought him onstage: "Look at this Yelawolf-looking-ass; he been saying the N word and everything, he don't give a fuck."

If Lamar is the promise of a new generation of hip-hop, it's certainly a future to look forward to. Not as straight-up weird as some of his current counterparts, Lamar's style is substantive but he still manages to talk about weed and his dick a lot. And a brief, exciting, freestyle reminded us that while his beats are worthy and the writing sharp, he can still take your ass in a battle.

This was unquestionably the last time we will see Lamar in a venue as intimate as Trees. His full length, Good Kid in a Mad City, is rumored to be ready, but like all good things, we must wait.

Set list

Death of Me - Intro Fuck Your Ethnicity Hol' Up P&P She Needs Me A.D.H.D. Tammy's Song J. Rock Guest - Hood Gon' Love This Look Out for Detox The Spiteful Chant Ronald Reagan Era Rigamortus Cut You Off Blow My High Chapter Six Michael Jordan HiiPower