Five of Kendrick Lamar's best live performances
Ahead of his Rolling Loud performance, REVOLT revisits some of Kendrick Lamar’s best moments on the stage.
Viewers of today’s Rolling Loud festival are in for a treat with Kendrick Lamar’s performance tonight: between award shows, late-night TV, and concerts, K. Dot has emerged as one of the most unique, expressive performers that rap has to offer. He’ll rock through his hits, album cuts, and unreleased music with equal authority and creativity, and his fans win every time as a result. To prepare for his Saturday night performance at Rolling Loud, REVOLT TV decided to revisit some of his best performances from the last several years.
2016 Grammy Awards – “The Blacker The Berry” and “Alright”
To Pimp A Butterfly was Kendrick’s transcendent moment – and when he took the stage at the 2016 Grammys, he delivered with a performance that was just as epic and multifaceted. After walking on stage dressed as part of a chain gang, Kendrick tore through a fierce rendition of “The Blacker The Berry” that used neon tribal designs. He then went from the low point of “Berry” into a triumphant performance of “Alright,” which painted a scene of Africans dancing in front of a bonfire. And he concluded with an unreleased tune. Kendrick was the man of the night and, as he continues to prove, the voice of a generation.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, January 2016 – “untitled”
Kendrick had plenty of worthwhile songs from To Pimp A Butterfly that he could have performed, but when he was the musical guest for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon he had new music to present. With a live band backing him, a plaid-wearing K. Dot locked in for an unheard song, starting low-key before progressively raising his energy through the performance. Kendrick said it was just a leftover from the To Pimp A Butterfly sessions, which led to a demand from fans for those songs. Top Dawg and Kendrick gave in to the demands, releasing untitled unmastered. months later.
2014 Grammy Awards – Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive x m.A.A.d city”
The Grammys infamously snubbed good kid, m.A.A.d city as Rap Album of the Year, but Kendrick didn’t let their mistake impact how he showed out for Grammy viewers and his fans. K. Dot collaborated with Imagine Dragons for a mashup of “m.A.A.d city” and the band’s song “Radioactive” – and the performance surprisingly worked, with Kendrick’s unbridled energy and distinctive voice cutting through the Imagine Dragons’ huge sound. Kendrick didn’t go home with any hardware, but he definitely made an impression.
2016 BET Awards – Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar, “Freedom”
It takes a lot to be able to share the stage with Queen Bey, and Kendrick more than held his own with their performance of the Lemonade highlight “Freedom” at the 2016 BET Awards. After Beyoncé and a crew of dancers romped through her verses on a stage methodically flooded with water and smoke, Kendrick rose into the stage’s vantage from a platform under the stage. K. Dot began with a few lines of improv before launching into his incredible verse – a spirited confrontation against institutional racism – with Beyoncé serving as the best hype woman he could ask for. Again, one of the best songs of the year was given a performance deserving of its excellence.
Kendrick’s Coachella performance is only weeks old, but its impact was immediately clear. A few days after the release of DAMN. stunned the industry, Kendrick gave a brilliant performance at Coachella that included cameos from the likes of Future and ScHoolboy Q, skits for the big screen, performances of new songs, and an elaborate stage setup that saw him suspended in midair. Fans were immediately anxious for him to announce the DAMN. tour, and he did just that days later.