“Ain’t nobody prayin’ for me” – Kendrick Lamar
This was the common binding theme throughout his martial art filled journey through the city of Houston on July 15th.
DRAM opened the show with this soulfully playful songs, such as Cash Machine, CHA CHA, and Broccoli. Travis Scott followed up DRAM’s short 30 minute set with a very energized set that lasted an hour and a half. The Houston-native electrified his fellow Houstonians with hits such as Antidote, way back, and goosebumps; riding across the stage on an animatronic bird; while also appealing to the singular commonality that binds all Houstonians together: Houston Sports. This leads us to the main event of the night: Kendrick Lamar.
Kendrick’s set seemed to tell a loose narrative of Kung Fu Kenny’s journey from a confident martial artist in DNA to a self-doubting, conflicted man who needed to remind himself that he was “gon’ be alright” in the end. Throughout the journey, the character seemed to be brought down by many vices such as overindulgence (Swimming Pools and Mask Off Remix), greed (Untitled 07 and Money Trees), and arrogance (Pride and God). Along the way, Kung-Fu Kenny experiences love (Loyalty and Love), depression (Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe), and violence (Element, M.A.A.D City, and XXX.). Skits were placed in key moments of the set in order to drive the narrative forward. This journey reflects the story portrayed in his recent album, DAMN.
Kendrick performed the show on a mostly empty stage. A live band was present, but the band was nowhere in sight. Despite the lack of props on stage, a mesmerizing light show, frequent relevant story visuals displayed on the screens, and occasional dancers and martial artists on stage captivated the audience’s eyes.
Kendrick himself was very energetic in his performance. He did not jump around on an animatronic bird or jump into the crowd as his opening acts did. He, instead, displayed his energy in very passionate deliveries of his songs. The audience also felt that energy and returned his effort by passionately rapping along with him. This resulted in Kendrick stopping his performance in the middle of Humble to listen to the audience continuing to rap the lyrics. At this moment, it seemed Kendrick became a little bit emotional and teared up a bit on stage.
Before the show, He may have thought nobody prayed for him. After the show, he learned that at least Houston prayed for him.