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Kendrick Lamar at Hard Rock Cafe: 5 thoughts

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Kendrick Lamar performs to an ecstatic Hard Rock Cafe crowd.
Chris Bitonti

1. The Hard Rock Cafe on the Srip was buzzing Friday night in anticipation of the sold-out BET Music Matters tour of emerging artists, including headliner Kendrick Lamar, billed by the network as the “newly crowned prince of West Coast hip-hop.” Fans lined up well in advance to pack the intimate venue to capacity. By the time I made it in, there was hardly an inch of space.

2. DJ Bandcamp uses every variation of the classic call and repeat: “I say (blank), you say (blank)!” imaginable, to keep energy high between acts. I bet he’s a wiz at Mad Libs.

3. Kendrick performs alone—well, almost alone. He's frequently accompanied by his invigorated crowd, which doubles almost every lyric. Kendrick needs only offer a word or two to his swarm, which proudly finishes his thoughts in unison.

4. Kendrick has a raw style, lyrically and in his performance. His music bridges gangsta and party rap featuring simple lyrics, many with alcohol and drug themes. He also lets his words speak for themselves, rarely using backing vocal tracks to increase impact. In fact, he frequently drops the music altogether and spits a cappella, giving his stripped style a concussive effect.

5. There's a lot of buzz surrounding Lamar in anticipation of the release of debut album Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City—due out Tuesday—and if the response to Friday night’s show is any indication, K-Dot appears to be well on his way to superstardom.

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