Kendrick Lamar Galvanizes Generations of The West at 'The Pop Out'

Kendrick Lamar Galvanizes Generations of The West at 'The Pop Out'

- By Ramon Gonzales

The hometown set included a rare appearance from Dr. Dre which saw a passing of the torch as Kendrick performed the instant classic "Not Like Us" five times consecutively.

Photo: Amazon Music

With less than two weeks lead up time, the announcement of Kendrick Lamar's hometown set in 'The Pop Out - Ken and Friends' came packaged with so many subplots contributing to a swell of anticipation. 

While the most apparent storyline is that the show was Dot's first since firing up a highly-contested verbal beef with Drake, it would be a glaring omission to not consider a few more crucial talking points - the first being the overwhelming demand. 

According to published reports and the clamor of the almighty social media feed, there were well over 100,000 people waiting to purchase tickets when they went on sale, June 7th. Though there's room to argue that the beef being front and center certainly fueled interest, those numbers are astounding given how short a runway the show actually had between the announcement and the on-sale date. 

The other bullet point was the possibility that came with the billing of, "...and Friends". Nurturing speculation as to who would make an appearance, the kind of starpower Kendrick commands and who would take advantage this kind of platform more than justified the ticket price. Upping the ante, the event was to be livestreamed on a mainstream platform like Amazon Prime - which is indicative of the kind of juice Kendrick has even without the buzz of the beef with Champagne Papi. 



As for how the event would actually play out the night of - Kendrick Lamar would go onto make history with a legendary showing that will go down as a landmark moment in hip hop culture. 

Along with guests DJ Hed and accomplished producer Mustard, The Pop Out assembled a bevy of West Coast artist that spanned generations. This is especially important given the mesh of affiliations and complexities of the LA landscape. None of that mattered when Kendrick made the call.  

The presentation broke down into three segments with LA's own DJ Hed holding court first. Serving as maestro, Hed brought out a stacked roster consisting of the New West's best. With spots from Westside Boogie, Zoe Osama, Oh Geesy, Kalan.frfr, RJMrLA and Bino Rideaux to name a few, it was clear that the West's new class was eager to pick up the torch and run with it. 

Mustard bolstered the set with added star power and asserted some of the night's lasting highlights. Welcoming Tyler the Creator, Steve Lacy, Roddy Ricch, Blxst and regional staples like  310babii and Dom Kennedy, it was evident this was a showcase that would go down in the books. To properly finish out his time, Mustard would bring out longtime cohort YG for a set of anthems starting with "BPT" finishing with"Big Bank", underscoring the hit-making potency of the tandem. 

Apart from the recent arsenal of diss tracks Kendrick released in weeks aimed at Drake, its important to remember that Lamar remains the only artist outside of classical and jazz genres that has earned a Pulitzer Prize for his catalog. While the focus was largely on his live debut of "Euphoria", the Ab-Soul assisted "6:16 in LA" and the Future/Metro Boomin track "Like That" - it's impossible to deny the enduring effectiveness of his back catalog. 

Sourcing tracks spanning from good kid, m.A.A.d city, To Pimp A Butterfly and DAMN., Kendrick reiterated how and why his rank commands the kind of respect and adulation that played out in real time inside The Kia Forum. Sharing the stage with TDE alum including Jay Rock (which included a shining rendition of "Money Trees"), the previously mentioned Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q, King Kendrick reveled in his coronation. 

Among the biggest highlights of the night included a rare guest showing from none other than Dr. Dre. For Kendrick, the move emphasized his pedigree, paying tribute to the greats that laid the framework for him to become such a vital figure in contemporary hip hop. The appearance also framed Kendrick's position among the hierarchy of the genre. As the two shared the onstage real estate, it was clear that Kendrick was the resounding voice of his era, effecting the kind cultural shift Dre had achieved a generation prior. 

In what translated as a ceremonial passing the torch, Dre would follow his renditions of "Still D.R.E." and the perennial "California Love" by whispering the introductory line, "I See Dead People" for Kendrick's live debut of "Not Like Us". Kenny would go onto perform the track five times consecutively - with the arena giving off a bigger pop each time. 

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the night is Kendrick's compelling case in positioning "Not Like Us" as an instant classic. It was fitting that the finale went back-to-back with some of hip hop most evergreen entries, yet what was most telling was the kind of exaltation and zeal the track elicited from the arena. "Not Like Us" transcended the diss track and in just weeks has become an generational anthem - a feat that was arguably last accomplished in 1996 when Dre and Tupac offered their ode to California. 

For the last decade, Kendrick has been at the nucleus of the West while simultaneously cementing his legacy as a global icon. At The Pop Out, Kendrick served as a lighting rod that galvanized the West for an evening that will be memorialized in hip hop lore and regarded as watershed moment in the history of the culture. 

From m.A.A.d City to the world. 

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