Remember, Turtle Style always leads to victory…
If you didn’t understand the previous sentence, you have to experience Kendrick Lamar’s – The DAMN. Tour to fully grasp the meaning behind it.
Thursday night saw Kendrick Lamar, along with D.R.A.M. and Travis Scott pack the United Center for an unimaginable night of hip hop at its best.
Kicking off the night, was Atlantic Records signee, D.R.A.M. D.R.A.M. has a unique personality mixed with epic vocal range and this was displayed throughout his set. He would perform multiple tracks from his debut album Big Baby D.R.A.M. and also took it back to the summer of 2014 with his breakout single Cha Cha. In between songs, he would address the audience and say “if you love your momma, say yea!”. DRAM’s set came to an end with a new rendition of Broccoli that saw the energetic artist go into the crowd to celebrate with the concert-goers.
Next up was Travis Scott and that could only mean one thing, it was time for Chicago to RAGE. Whenever Travis Scott touches down in the Windy city, he’s met with nothing but love and enthusiasm. This performance would be a bit different from La Flame’s previous sets – He would start off on the stage and end up floating above it. From out of nowhere his DJ, Chase B said “What is that up there?” The “that” Chase B was referencing was a large eagle that was making its way down from atop of the arena. For those that don’t know, the eagle does have a name – The name is Jack. Jack was previous seen on Travis’ Birds Eye View tour. This new version of Jack the eagle descended from the top of the stage and would fly Travis Scott over the first rows while he performed.
Majority of the tracks performed were from Travis’ sophomore album, Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight, but the crowd would erupt when Butterfly Effect hit. Before closing with Goosebumps, Travis stated “I fuckin’ love you, Chicago” and Astroworld (his third album) was indeed coming soon. I’ve seen Travis Scott a numerous times live, but this hands down had to be the loudest reaction he’s received in Chicago and one of his strongest performances.
It was now time for the Grand Finale… Set up began for the main attraction, the man known as Kendrick Lamar. Not long after, the DAMN Tour curtain dropped to the floor of the arena to unveil a short Kung Fu film that featured Kendrick Lamar as the character “Kung fu Kenny”, who was learning the sacred martial arts technique known as “Turtle Style”.
The roof of the United Center nearly came off when Kendrick arose from the underneath the stage, donning a yellow “Enter The Dragon” inspired sweatsuit. The Chicago crowd gave Kendrick Lamar a standing ovation even before he could utter out a word – he stood in the center of the stage for a solid minute taking it all in before jumping right into DNA.
Taking a moment to address the crowd, Kendrick welcomed everyone to the DAMN tour and ensured Chicago that they were in for a long night, which was met with loud cheers.
The DAMN. Tour is a huge production (including a second stage) that is visually stunning. There is so much to see and hear, from the well-shot Kung Fu vignettes that feature many amazing hidden messages, such as “When the black is the darkest, the glow will shine it’s brightest” to artistry of the martial artists and dancers to amazing non-viable live band that put a nice slightly new groove on certain tracks.
Yes, the tour is heavy influenced by the Kung Fu/Karate film genre, but the vocal point of the show is the theme of “Ain’t nobody prayin’ for me” (take that as you will). Hearing the setlist live, when all songs are performed one after another together, they paint a picture of hate, love, brutality, power, mistakes, and Black importance & empowerment. More importantly Kendrick Lamar is a true lyricist and one of a kind performer. Anyone who has seen this tour live can all agree that Kendrick never misses a beat and doesn’t skip over or forget any lyrics. No doubt a lot of training and preparation went into mastering his performance.
K. Dot would dive deep into his discography, performing tracks from Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, To Pimp a Butterfly, untitled unmastered, and of course his latest album DAMN. Throughout the night Kendrick spoke to the crowd, and at one particular moment, he said “That’s love Chi-Town, so much muthafuckin’ love I have to give some of it back…” then proceeds to bring out Chance the Rapper, who performed the old tune, No Problem. After leaving the stage, Kendrick asked the people of Chicago for a favor – “Forever you must protect him, and when you protect him make sure he’s Alright “, which led to an incredible segue into the TPAB smash hit, Alright.
The DAMN Tour came to a close when Kendrick performed HUMBLE twice – the first time, the audience went acapella and belted out the chorus and the entire second verse. The show was over, or so the crowd thought. Kendrick returned to the stage and preformed GOD as the encore. He thanked everyone and said it was “truly a blessing” to have performed in Chicago.
The first time I saw Kendrick Lamar live was at the United Center in 2013 when he opened for the YEEZUS Tour. Five years later he returns to the exact arena and sells it out. – That’s truly a testament of working at your craft and perfecting it. The DAMN Tour is definitely the tour of 2017. It has always been known, but this tour has cemented Kendrick Lamar as a prodigious rap phenomenon.
View more photos from the show below
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Tre G, the Journalisy Without A Beat. Got an entertainment tip, product to review or story to tell? Send all inquiries over to to journalistwithoutabeat.com