The Grammy-winning rapper was alone on an outdoor stage across from Staples Center for a 45-minute set packed with hits from his albums, collaborations and mixtapes.
With no introduction or fanfare, the 30-year-old emerged wearing an oversized red sweatshirt over a white T-shirt and black pants, his braids pulled back, and launched into the biting “DNA” from his album “DAMN.” He performed several songs from that most recent album, including “Love,” ”Loyalty,” ”XXX” and “Element.”
Lamar said little between songs other than shouting out to the “day one Kendrick Lamar fans.” For them, he played tracks like “Backseat Freestyle” and “Swimming Pools (Drank)” from 2012’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.” He also urged the audience to “generate some noise for yourselves.”
Even alone on stage accompanied by his own recorded track, Lamar is electrifying. His vocal delivery is flawless and his presence powerful. Giant screens on either side of the stage projected his image during the set, but even with his diminutive stature, Lamar is somehow bigger.
American Express sponsored the show as part of its All-Star weekend events. Tickets were available to cardholders, with proceeds benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles. But with the show’s rib-rattling bass, chances are it was heard for blocks around downtown Los Angeles.
The Killers are set to perform Saturday night.