Kendrick Lamar preforming at the DAMN tour in 2017. Source: Wiki Commons

Kendrick Lamar’s Juneteenth Concert: More Than a Victory Lap

Kendrick Lamar transforms Drake feud into celebration of LA unity. A star-studded show bridges divides in hip-hop community.

2 mins read

Mia Boykin

Kendrick Lamar transformed the Forum into an energetic epicenter of Los Angeles hip-hop culture last night on Juneteenth. The “Pop Out” concert, initially conceived as a victory lap following Lamar’s highly publicized rap battle with Drake, evolved into something far more significant – a celebration of unity that resonated with the spirit of Juneteenth.

17,000 people attended the concert, with celebrities like The Weeknd, Lebron James, Ayo Edebiri, and Rick Ross mingling with the crowd. The sold-out venue and celebrity turnout underscores Kendrick’s impact on West Coast culture.

The three-hour live-streamed concert began with a set by DJ Mustard, the producer behind Lamar’s chart-topping “Not Like Us.” Mustard’s performance was a tour of his extensive catalog, featuring guest appearances from Ty Dolla $ign, Tyler, The Creator, Roddy Ricch, and YG.

Thousands reacted to the guest performances online. Guest artists that haven’t touched the stage in years returned to celebrate Kendrick Lamar’s victory over Drake and honor D.J. Mustard’s catalog of iconic songs that have built the West Coast sound.

When Lamar took the stage, clad in a red hoodie, the energy in the Forum reached a high. He opened with ‘Euphoria’, not shying away from the feud with Drake in any sense. The crowd buzzed with energy at the live debut, as Lamar’s stage presence captivated all the attention in the arena. The feud seems to be over, with most arguing Kendrick won after Drake came into legal trouble for using a AI of Tupac Shakur’s voice in “Taylor Made Freestyle”.

He skillfully navigated through his extensive repertoire, including classics like “DNA,” “King Kunta,” and “Humble.” The performance of “Alright” struck a particularly poignant chord, its message of resilience and hope amplified by the Juneteenth setting.

In a nostalgic turn, Lamar reunited with his Black Hippy collaborators – Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock. This reunion, the group originally formed in 2008, was a nod to Lamar’s roots in the LA hip-hop scene.

The concert reached new heights when Dr. Dre joined Lamar on stage. The crowd erupted as the opening chords of “Still D.R.E.” filled the arena, followed by a rendition of “California Love.” This intergenerational collaboration symbolized the evolution of West Coast rap and the generations of memories that exist within it.

However, it was “Not Like Us” that emerged as the night’s anthem. Lamar performed the song five times, each rendition met with enthusiasm from the crowd. The audience hung on to every word, with the Forum exploding into cheers of “a minor” at the end of the set.

A Celebration of Unity

Throughout the performance, Lamar was surrounded by a group of hypemen, including NBA stars Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan, DJ Mustard, Roddy Ricch, and a teenage dance troupe led by krumping innovator Tommy the Clown. This collaboration of many reinforced the theme of unity that overcast the event.

In a powerful closing moment, Lamar called specific individuals to join him on stage for a group photo, emphasizing the significance of bringing together rappers from different LA communities and gang affiliations. “Let the world see this,” he proclaimed. Now considered on Twitter as a historical artifact, the photo highlights the unity stitched together across divisive lines within the Black community through music.

Lamar reflected on the deeper meaning of the event: “It ain’t got nothing to do with no back and forth records. It’s got everything to do with this moment right here. That’s what this shit was about. To bring all of us together.”

The night ended with Lamar promising, “This won’t be the last of us.” As fans exited the Forum, the instrumental of “Not Like Us” played, with the crowd continuing to rap along – a fitting end to an event that went above a simple concert and became a celebration of LA’s hip-hop culture.

 Lamar’s carefully curated lineup and performances highlighted how Black artists have consistently turned adversity into expressions of communal celebration. Lamar stopped time by taking the crowd through generations of music, guiding the listener through memories associated with each era of hip-hop. More than just a concert, the performance was a powerful affirmation of Black joy in the face of historical and ongoing challenges. And what celebrates Juneteenth more than that?

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