Five thoughts on Kendrick Lamar's show at the Boulevard Pool, May 22:
1. As hype men do, this one warms up the crowd with sure thing after sure thing, from “Pop That” to “Harlem Shake.” It’s all about bitches, booties and Bugattis. Everyone is singing and dancing along, the energy spring-loaded. These people want Kendrick. In fact, the women in front of me want Kendrick. For now, they’re settling for the creepy (but still totally hot) disembodied heads and torsos of the Thunder from Down Under cast that are flashing on Harmon Corner’s jumbo screen.
2. Someone says it “smells like snapbacks and tattoos.” To me, it just smells like weed.
3. All of a sudden Kendrick Lamar is onstage rapping. There’s no fanfare. He just comes out with the mic and gets to it, hoodie up, watch gleaming in the night as his hands work the air. His voice is roughed up and deeper live. During “Hol’ Up,” the crowd sings the hook back to him, swaying to the old-school horn groove underneath the beat. Some of the lyrics say a lot: “Live my twenties at 2 years old, wiser man / Truth be told I’m like 87 / Wicked as eighty reverends in a pool of fire wit’ devils holdin’ hands.” Others, not so much: “I call a ho a ho.”
4. Not since “O.P.P.” has a song about lady parts been so irresistible. Kendrick’s “P & P” (one stands for Patrón, the other you can figure out) has the girls in front of me shaking it. Their enthusiasm is infectious, though I kinda wish I had some hair to swing back at this tall drink of water with the beautiful, long braids. Those things hurt when they smack you in the face.
5. “Money Trees ” to “Backseat Freestyle” to his dope section of “F*uckin’ Problems,” the songs hit fast and hard. Kendrick is sweating, but he looks supremely comfortable. He holds the mic out to the monster crowd, grinning because they know every single word. He detours often to rap without any sound behind him, fierce and spitting, not missing a syllable. The stupid wind makes it hard to hear those moments, but even when I can’t I know they’re good. This guy is part slam poet. And he knows when to let the beat work. At one point the ground shakes with jumping bodies. Hands fly with such violence that my head gets thumped. A lot. The girl behind me finally apologizes. “I was representing the West Coast,” she says. For that, I’m willing to take a couple elbows.