Kendrick Lamar: A Glowed Up Homecoming in Los Angeles

by Brad Wete

Homecomings are sweet, especially when arriving back stronger and more successful than when the journey began. It's what makes it easy to understand why Kendrick Lamar’s first of several concerts at Los Angeles’ Staples Center last night (August 6) must have been particularly gratifying for the Compton-raised local.

Three critically acclaimed proper albums into his career as a thoughtful lyricist—the latest being DAMN.—Lamar is just now performing to sold-out venues that also host NBA games (Staples is the home of the Lakers) and top-tier pop acts. “This is our first arena show,” he said proudly Sunday night as he thanked the crowd of fans for their continued support.

Initially, he mentioned, his goal as an up-and-coming rhymer was to fill the now defunct Hollywood hot spot, Key Club, with a couple hundred people. He’s manifested much more, though. About 20,000 people watched him run though DAMN. cuts like “DNA.” and “ELEMENT.” with bass coming so strong from the speakers that it unfortunately often overpowered the headliner’s vocals. That may have been the only defeat Kendrick took last night.

Lamar rocked Kung Fu fighter wears and starred as the lead of a mock version of The Last Dragon. In yellow, then red two-piece uniforms, Kendrick fought his way through mental, political, and physical obstacles with his performance on stage. As at times playful clips shown on screen wrapped, it was declared that “KUNG FU KENNY FOUND THAT MUTHAFUCKIN GLOW, HOE.”

Attendees with the smartphone flashlights out lit up Staples Center as Lamar basked in the glory of a standing ovation that felt more like the adoration of proud peers and loved ones. When his three Los Angeles shows are complete by week’s end, Kendrick will have performed for more than 60,000 people minutes away from the ‘hood he raps about most. That his name holds weight and popularity globally is a massive feat, but it's safe to say that there’s nothing comparable to glowing brightly where you were once a flickering bulb.