Here’s Why Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN Tour Is One Of The Best Of The Year
It’s quite an understatement to say Kendrick Lamar has outdone himself with the DAMN Tour. During these past few dates, he’s showcased poignant messages on stage with the help of powerhouse Travis Scott and the always joyful DRAM. Unlike his fellow rap disciples, Lamar chose a simpler way of promoting his message. It’s as if he’s letting his body of work speak for itself, sans the high flying stunts and deep stage dives rappers are finding prime real estate in today.
“Throughout his hour-and-a-half set, Mr. Lamar was energetic and nimble — his body communicated joy, exasperation, supreme confidence. Sometimes his movements were herky-jerky, as if he were absorbing invisible blows. Rarely did he indulge in grand gestures (apart from a couple of deep bows as he took in some extended adulation from the audience). He was a worker with a job to do, and he did it without much glamour,” Jon Caramanica described of Lamar’s Arizona show for The New York Times.
K. Dot’s stop in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Thursday (July 20) was no different. DRAM picked things up around 7:30 p.m., and got the crowd going with “Cash Machine,” “Broccoli” and “Cha Cha.” His ability to get close to his fans is what makes him more endearing. “My favorite DRAM. part would be when he jumps off the stage to walk the crowd because of all the different emotions it provokes,” one of DRAM.’s photographers tells VIBE via email. “I usually see these different reactions while I’m reviewing the final photos. Some people get mad because they end up spilling their beer (laughs).”
Amid Baby DRAM.’s penchant for being amicable with his fans, it’s worth noting how innovative and fun his set designs are. During his performance of “Broccoli,” a montage of bright neon colors illuminated on a screen behind him. A concoction of falling animated broccoli pieces, which look like they were taken out of an old Super Mario All-Stars Nintendo game, dotted the background.
“A lot of thought goes into building DRAM.’s set design for the tour,” adds a member of the Virginia native’s management. “We have built a very dope team. First, we can start with his stylist Fatima Bah who has been killing it. Color has always been important for DRAM., so for this tour, you’ll see a lot of brighter hues, and more custom made things. Everything on stage centers around DRAM. as it should. His set up includes a DJ and a bass/keys player.”
Travis Scott later emerged with a green-infused set, amazing the crowd as he flew across the stage in a birdlike way. “I still think it’s legendary every time I see it!” one of Scott’s photographers said. “I can honestly say nobody gets the crowd like Travis does. He has 100 percent connection with his crowds and can get them moving every time he wants them to because that’s what a true musician is able to do.”
“Photographing Travis has been epic!” he continued. “Just being able to see him in the zone before a show and then to see the kids’ reaction once he comes out is insane, because it shows you that everything he works for is for those kids.”
The Texas-native performed a slew of his ubiquitous tracks like “3500,” “90210,” “Goosebumps” and “Anditote.”
Kung Fu Kenny then appeared in a red montage background. A flurry of fire blazed out of nowhere to usher the “Swimming Pools” artist to the stage, sending the crowd into a frenzy. While running through the DAMN album, Lamar brought out 2 Chainz for “4 AM.” The minute the crowd caught a glimpse of the rapper, the arena erupted into a volcano-like explosion of screams and chants. When Kenny dominated the stage with “Humble,” fans created seismic waves of excitement while they sang every word in unison. There’s no denying Kendrick is a man of and for the people.
It’s worth noting that throughout the tour, the Compton native made it his mission to feature other prominent rap stars like J.Cole (Detroit) and Chance The Rapper (Chicago). He also gifted one of his fans in Dallas with a van, which made it easier for her to get around since she’s bound to a wheelchair.
Sonically, no amount of admiration describes how expertly Lamar crafts his sound and music. If the Ten Commandments are the religious beliefs in which we (should) abide by, K. Dot’s lyrics are their hidden scriptures, which vouch for the disenfranchised in America, and describes how that minority sees life through a dark lens while experiencing those same images in reality. He has a penchant for crafting a detailed narrative of what it means to be a black man in a place that doesn’t value his existence. On stage, he delivers this message—effortlessly.