Kendrick Lamar is routinely declared as the most significant rapper of his generation – and with good reason. His albums Good Kid, m.A.A.d City and particularly the brilliantly realised but awfully titled To Pimp A Butterfly established him as both musical innovator and lyrical warrior, and he has maintained that momentum while embracing his newfound superstardom with 2017’s Damn and his newly released curated soundtrack for superhero blockbuster Black Panther.
Hydro, Glasgow ****
The Damn tour makes a simple but bold statement by having Lamar pacing a huge boxing ring-like stage with only a heavy duty PA and lightshow, solitary dancer and pyrotechnics for company and witty kung fu pastiche films for light relief. It’s a concept borrowed from mentor Kanye West and requires a megawatt charisma to carry it off – fortunately, Lamar has presence and belief in abundance without tipping over into West’s crazed ego trip territory.
Instead, Lamar was totally immersed in the delivery of his music and message – a deeply politicised black consciousness with a side order of sultry – making this a taut, intense, occasionally unsettling but also frequently funky trip with plenty opportunities for the disarmed fans to rap along plus a brief incursion by Lamar to a small podium in the heart of the crowd, where he crouched in a cage of tiny lights for the more intimate club track Lust. But it was love – the track of the same name as well as the adoration of the audience – which swept the show to its uplifting climax.