Review: Lamar impressive at Blaisdell
REVIEW BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
The future of hip-hop is in good hands, thanks in part to the rhymes of Kendrick Lamar. The 26-year-old left little doubt he is the face of his generation on Saturday night at Blaisdell Arena.
The anointed savior of rap was dressed in a blue Los Angeles Dodgers cap, dark navy blue sweater, matching jeans and black Adidas sneakers when he hit the stage just after 9 p.m. following an opening set by fellow Top Dawg Entertainment artist Jay Rock. Standing at just 5’6, Lamar was still quite the captivating figure.
While living up to the buzz that surrounds a big show can be a daunting task in itself, Lamar made the show’s ticket prices ($55 to $159) feel like they were worth every penny. Casual but in control, it didn’t take long for the Compton, Calif. native to seize the moment and prove his talent. Despite being billed as a performance backed a live band, Lamar was joined by just his his tour DJ. Refreshingly, there was no other hype man on stage this evening besides DJ Ali on the decks.
While Hawaii crowds have a tendency to save their energy for the hits, this wasn’t the case on Saturday as the capacity crowd rapped along, word for word, to just about every song. Lamar’s lyrical dexterity, confident rhyme flow and cadence were on display early on during “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Poetic Justice” and “P and P.”
Primarily standing smack dab in the middle of the stage, “Effin Problem” and his eloquent bars on Young Jeezy’s “R.I.P. Remix” highlighted the midway point of his set, and were met with loud approval. On more than a few occasions, Lamar asked the crowd which side of the arena was loudest as live footage of the audience appeared on giant screens at either end of the stage.
The pace of the show was steady with few breaks in the action. While it would have been nice to see his aggressive, assertive side, Lamar displayed a more subdued demeanor during his verse on Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” remix and the recently released “Backwards” with Tame Impala.
While he hasn’t yet put in the years required to boast a huge catalog of classic material, with so much star power and momentum on his side you still get a sense Lamar is drawing attention to himself at just the right time. Exuding so much raw talent, one would have to search really hard to expose Lamar’s artistic flaws.
Could he be more animated on stage? Probably. Does he need to be? No.
The night’s epic moment occurred during “Sing About Me,” as the Blaisdell lights went dark and camera phone lights shimmered like stars in the evening sky while Lamar provided a lyrical backdrop. He then bid adieu to Honolulu with an encore that included a toned down version of hits “Swimming Pools” and “Cartoons and Cereal.”
“I will be back,” Lamar told the crowd before leaving — a positive sign for fans who are already looking forward to his next visit to the islands.