Entertain Us (24-7-2018): Kendrick the king of Adelaide for a night

Entertain Us (24-7-2018): Kendrick the king of Adelaide for a night

Kendrick Lamar is undoubtedly on top of the music game right now, and that was evident during his performance at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Sunday, July 15.

Lamar’s past three albums — 2012’s Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly and 2017’s Damn — have each been near-universally anointed the best albums of their respective years.

This wild critical acclaim is matched by Lamar’s popularity, as he headlines festivals worldwide and won last year’s Triple J Hottest 100 with smash hit Humble.

It’s a tricky balance being adored by music experts and commercial audiences, yet Lamar’s music is tailormade for the task.

Look at some of his most well-known tracks. Swimming Pools became a drinking anthem even though it’s about peer pressure, the dangers of alcohol and the cycle of addiction.

King Kunta is based on a novel about a slave whose foot is severed to prevent him escaping a plantation. (The parts about yams reference another novel in which an African American character smells yams cooking on the street and reminisces about them being a popular food, and symbol of social status, in Africa.)

In Humble, Lamar brags about his success and status but aims the hook — sit down, be humble (referencing Jeremiah 13 18) — squarely at himself.

That these songs became hits says a lot about how Lamar packages such dense lyrics.

His records remain accessible and often downright fun, and that translated to a vibrant concert in Adelaide.

Backed by a band, Lamar breezed through a selection of his most beloved tracks, retaining command of the audience throughout.

He maintained a positive yet engaging vibe, enhanced by martial arts themes being interwoven throughout the show via video interludes and an accompanying dancer.

The concert at once seemed like a no-frills affair, and a big deal. A Serious Moment, and a fun singalong. A lesson and a party.

It captured and highlighted these dualities, which have made Lamar the most revered artist of his generation.

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