The Austin Chronicle

ACL Live Shot: Kendrick Lamar

By Thomas Fawcett, October 6, 2013, 11:10am, Earache!

It’s been less than two months since Kendrick Lamar lit a fire under hip-hop’s collective ass by calling out names on “Control,” a Big Sean song in name only. With that verse, Lamar didn’t simply put his peers on blast. He inserted himself into the "best rapper alive" conversation. On Saturday night at ACL he proved why.

The fact that the Compton MC is here at all – the lone rapper at ACL – should tell you something about his current place in the pantheon, if not the festival’s priorities and prime demographic.

Performing with a live band in front of an endless sea of smoke plumes and white people, the inner-city griot immediately demanded hands in the air – and had the crowd eating out of his own – from the jump of “m.A.A.d city” to the ferocious “Backseat Freestyle,” which was largely just a sing-along.

A$AP Rocky collabo “Fuckin’ Problems” preceded good kid, m.A.A.d city album anchors “Money Trees, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and “Poetic Justice.” An homage to the L.A. assets of women, weed, and weather, “The Recipe” felt like it could have been about Austin as the temperature torpedoed to a breezy 70 degrees while the sun set on Zilker Park to chants of “Ken-drick, Ken-drick.”

Before diving into “Swimming Pools (Drank),” Compton’s crown jewel asked everyone to put their cell phones in the air to “represent the stars we’ve been shooting for since day one.” As the sound faded out on the “A.D.H.D.” encore, Kendrick could be heard repeating the same phrase ad infinitum: “I will be back. I will be back. I. Will. Be. Back.”

Little doubt he meant as a headliner. He’ll need more hits, but don’t bet against it, ya bish.

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