Kendrick Lamar @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Friday 18th January 2013

Kendrick Lamar @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Friday 18th January 2013Kendrick Lamar @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Friday 18th January 2013Kendrick Lamar @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Friday 18th January 2013Kendrick Lamar @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Friday 18th January 2013Kendrick Lamar @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Friday 18th January 2013Kendrick Lamar @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Friday 18th January 2013Kendrick Lamar @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Friday 18th January 2013Kendrick Lamar @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Friday 18th January 2013

Winter wonderland - January 2013

It appears gangster rap is making a comeback. Straight outta Compton, a good kid from a mad city has emerged with an album hailed as the “most impressive hip hop album in years.” Kendrick Lamar was in Birmingham tonight to mark the release of the critically acclaimed “Good Kid Maad City.” Despite the foot of snow in Birmingham, hoards of dedicated Kendrick fans turned up to completely sell out the Temple at the HMV Institute (name soon to be changed). The one hour set could’ve been longer, but Kendrick Lamar was a joy to watch tonight.

Winter wonderland - January 2013Kendrick Lamar’s been around for a long time but it was the release of the mix tape “Overly Dedicated” that really set the 25 year old on the right path. The mix tape, glorifying gangster rap and street crime gave Kendrick the chance to work with Dr Dre. Since then it’s been nothing but success for the “New king of the West Coast.” From “Section 80” to the powerful “Good Kid Maad City” Lamar now has a huge following, so tonight was a great chance to see Lamar just as he’s taking off.

The lights dropped, the pungent aroma of marajuana filled the Temple. A small, sturdWinter wonderland - January 2013y figure appeared on stage, addressed the crowd,  then went straight into the new and catchy “F****** Problems.” Notably in the song it doesn’t really seem like Kendrick’s got any problems, just lady issues. Which is a shame as I thought there’d be more problems to talk about in Compton like gun crime and drug abuse. However the song has grown on me, and was a crowd favourite tonight.

Notably the HMV did a great job with the sound tonight, and even amidst the rowdy crowd you could actually hear what Lamar was saying. Kendrick was such a joy to watch as he has such a natural ability to rap and control the crowd. There lots of opportunities for the crowd to get involved with songs from the album/mixtape “Section 80” like “ADHD” and tracks from “Good Kid Maad City” like “Swimming Pools.” It was the catchy hooks that I liked in songs like “Backseat Freestyle”, however there were quite a few songs on the set list which sent me to sleep. Mid way between the set the crowd were in forced into a sense of lull. “Poetic Justice” just went on and on as after the song Lamar rapped without the music for far too long. But the crowd were soon awakened by “YAWK! YAWK! YAWK! YAWK!” with Kendrick launching into “M.a.a.d City.” It’s songs like “M.a.a.d City” that really bring out the best in Kendrick Lamar as they’re telling a story. The great thing about being from Compton is the variation of things to rap about. Kendrick is telling us about his real story “Seen a light skinned n****** with his brains blown out” not just the b****** and h*** clichés.

Winter wonderland - January 2013
The rapping was all above par tonight but the only thing that was niggling at me were some of the beats. When I first heard about “Good Kid Maad City” and the fact that Kendrick was from Compton, I rushed to the computer and brought the album. As the past will tell you, gangster rap started in Compton. Groups like N.W.A created a completely new genre. But a flop in my opinion was “Compton.” This was the first track I played, and it really failed to impress me as far as the beats were concerned. I don’t know who’s making the beats, but for the majority of the album it’s not Dr Dre for sure.

Winter wonderland - January 2013
It seems a shame to end on a bad note so I’m not going to. Kendrick Lamar didn’t just stand there and rap tonight, he was very vocals after each song, and has a lot of say for himself which is a good sign. I would say he’s a good role model, but a few of the tracks do mention B*****. My personal highlight was when Kendrick brought on stage a guy who was the spitting image of Mike Tyson just before the end. Kendrick didn’t brag, he’s gone from the streets to where he is today all by himself. With the exciting people Lamar is working with, I can’t wait till Kendrick Lamar releases some new material and comes back to Birmingham.

Review by John Kirby

Photographs by Katja Ogrin

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