Kendrick Lamar - South Side Music Hall - 10/31/12

Kendrick Lamar, Dustin Cavazos, -topic South Side Music Hall Wednesday, October 31

Thanks to Scoremore and AEG, Dallas rap fans are currently having one of the best Halloweens ever. By the time candy prices are marked down again, our city will have seen Nas with Lauryn Hill, Asher Roth and the A$AP Rocky tour. Next Halloween, we won't just remember 2012 as the year everyone dressed up as Riff Raff, we'll remember being spoiled on a week of back-to-back hot tickets. The Kendrick Lamar show at South Side Music Hall last night, however, will be remembered for how well it represented Dallas' rich and thriving hip-hop community.

-topic started off the night with a lively, well-received set that met and fed the crowd's energy level. Ever the masterful self-promoter, -topic landed the gig with Texas rap powerhouse Scoremore by starting a Twitter campaign. After a persistent barrage from the lyricist's loyal fans and followers, -topic was added to the bill. You're going to want to keep an eye on this guy; he's extremely talented and making moves.

Dustin Cavazos is evolving, and for Dallas, it's really been a pleasure to watch. We've seen him go from wide-eyed dreamer to the city's unequivocal hip-hop romantic. His guitarist and DJ live accompaniment evokes a sort of classic soul vibe with his more laid back, down-tempo tracks. Just when the restless crowd started to grow weary of the slow jam, Cavazos brought out Slim Gravy of A.Dd+ to perform their recent joint single, "Alright."

Lamar finally took the stage after a pretty hype set from DJ Q, to roaring applause and a rash of phone camera flashes. His first major label release, good kid, m.A.A.d. city (Interscope/Aftermath), dropped on October 22, and was given the warmest possible critical reception in the world of rap, heralded as an instant classic by everyone but Shyne. It's far left stylistically for a major label release, and a breaking point for a new generation of underground rappers who've long paid their dues.

The Compton emcee started off by playing some older tracks off mixtape Section.80, shouting out the fans who have been supporting him since day one. At this point, I started to notice many crowd members holding up their copies of GKMC, most of them fresh in packaging. When Lamar worked up to the new material, he asked the crowd to pick which song they wanted to hear from the new album. In overwhelming and resounding unison, the crowd answered, "MAD CITY!" He did this for the next two songs, to the same reaction. Next song, "BACKSEAT FREESTYLE!" Third song, as if on cue, "BITCH DON'T KILL MY VIBE!" And, of course, each time he obliged.

Kendrick Lamar is truly one of the last people's rappers. GKMC is a beautifully composed narrative of a day in the life of a regular dude from Compton. He screws around with his favorite jump off, gets hassled by his parents, and gets into some shit. The album is an industry triumph in that it's the first time in a really long time a major label has so strongly backed an artist that is so 100% genuine to who he is as an individual. And, for that reason, the content is far easier to relate to than the majority of rap music getting radio play now.

While performing his current single, "Swimming Pools (Drank)," he rushed the edge of the stage on the second verse, and was met with the audience rapping along word for word with his intricate wordplay and accelerated delivery. The crowd was so loud and clear with every line, Lamar was visibly taken aback, as if overwhelmed by the love Dallas was showing him. He had to take a breath.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Vanessa Quilantan