With the news of HMV in administration last week, it hasn't been the best time for us music lovers. (Like most, I can remember buying my first record in the flagship store and it feeling like a more grown up Hamleys). However, if its demise teaches us anything, it's that the music industry is changing. No longer can artists/record labels cheat their fans and release albums full of 'fillers' with two hits and nothing much else. The modern artist has to build up some sort of rapport (this can be done through releasing numerous mixtapes and SoundCloud tracks for free) before we even begin to think about reaching for our wallets. And this story of 'try before you buy' couldn't ring more true for Kendrick Lamar, whose concert on a snowy Sunday night was nothing short of epic.
The 25 year old West Coast rapper rallied through the hits of his autobiographical album good kid, m.A.A.d city with all the ability of seasoned pro, often cutting the backing track and finishing songs a'capella for added emphasis. The crowd went berserk for songs such as the Janet Jackson's sampled Poetic Justice, the root cause of the phrase 'ya bish', Money Trees and the ironically performed Swimming Pools, all in equal measure. Dressed in a leather black shirt his swagger had the right nuance; he's not like ASAP Rocky or Kanye West in this sense, and doesn't try to be. He's humble, and evidently still has a strong appreciation for his modest beginnings in the rather turbulent Compton, which in a way adds to his formidable character.
K-Dot separated the wheat from the chaff by also performing early mixtape tracks and cuts from his first studio album, Section.80. He asked the crowd who had attended his more low-key gig in Camden last summer, to which my hand flew up quicker than that of a teacher's pet. However, it seems he needn't worry about his fan's authenticity, as the audience ferociously sung along to tracks such as ADHD with as much conviction as they did for his new album joints. He was pleased, and provided us with a full-fledged party.
Various anecdotes (and the occasional flirting) gave the audience a deeper sense of connection with Kendrick, allowing us to overlook mishaps such as the absence of a live band and '
Compton on the set list. His album, which he calls A Short Story by Kendrick Lamar, makes you feel as if you already know him, or you could at least be great friends one day. Both young and old (my friend's mum came along), famous and not (Jameela Jamil could be seen moshing near the front), had a great time. His story of having the odds stacked against him is one most can at least slightly relate to, which is why those who love him fear his entry into the mainstream. But asking him not to evolve would be selfish, and it's clear that Kendrick has been anything but.