Kendrick Channeled 2Pac as He Assumed the Throne at His Pop Out Concert

Kendrick Channeled 2Pac as He Assumed the Throne at His Pop Out Concert

We witnessed a coronation last night. 

Kendrick Lamar is now unequivocally the King of Rap, and has officially entered god status on the West Coast. 

He walked on stage dressed in a red hoodie with a white tee underneath and an iced-out crucifix draped over it, blue jeans, white, silver and red Nike Shox, and a red baseball hat. Why is this significant? The outfit was eerily similar to the one 2Pac wore during the 1994 Source Awards when he performed “Out on Bail” with his rap group Thug Life. 

Pac, who at the time was dealing with a bunch of legal issues in his personal life, hijacked the Source stage while A Tribe Called Quest were accepting their award for Rap Group of the Year. As the story goes, this performance wasn’t planned: Members of Pac’s entourage pressed the person in charge of sound and made him play the track. The rapper and the rest of Thug Life then went on stage, snatched the microphone from Q-Tip and started performing the song, which caused a brief rift between 2Pac and Tribe. Whether the outfit was intentional or not, we quickly understood the message Kendrick was trying to send.

The Compton emcee rose up from underneath the stage draped in red light and started his set with “Euphoria” — a song some said held little replay value. However, the lie detector determined that untrue, because the crowd at the Forum knew every single word and went bar-for-bar for the entire six-minute song. And, to circle back to the outfit he was wearing on stage, Kendrick added a new line to the song’s last verse: “Give me Tupac ring back and I might give you a little respect.” As if to say, “Hey, man, we can start to resolve this situation if you just return this West Coast artifact” — like a plot to an Indiana Jones movie. He also snuck in the first verse of “6:16 in LA”, and performed his “Like That” verse, adding insult to injury. 

However, the highlight of the night wasn’t Black Hippy reuniting onstage or Dr. Dre whispering “I see dead people” after performing “California Love.” It was when Kendrick performed “Not Like Us” not once, not twice, but six times in a row. He held the crowd in the palm of his hand, like only a true MC could. They hung onto every word, even doing the rapping for him and finishing his verses at times.

A crowd of people screaming “OV-Hoe” and calling you a “certified pedophile” already can’t be a good thing. But every time you thought things couldn’t get worse for Drake last night, they did. 

When Dot and Mustard were in the middle of the third or fourth replay of the song, and NBA stars (and fellow L.A. legends) DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook went onstage and started doing their dance, that’s when I realized just how bad things have gotten for Drake. Every artist, celebrity and friend of Kendrick’s in attendance danced on the Toronto rapper’s proverbial grave in the name of West Coast solidarity. It seemed as if a big chunk of the culture chose a side. 

I think some are underestimating the impact this can have on Drake’s overall appeal within the hip-hop community. I’m not talking about some kid in some suburban cul-de-sac, I’m talking about the kids in the streets. They’re the real tastemakers, and a lot of them who hold influence in Los Angeles were on that stage last night.

After the back-and-forth ended and Kendrick was crowned the de facto winner of the battle, many wondered how this would affect both artists’ careers. Would Drake still have the golden touch that he’s enjoyed for the past decade or so? Would he shake off this loss, much like he did with the Pusha T beef, and drop an undeniable hit like “God’s Plan?” Would he still be the top guy in rap? Would Kendrick take the W, but refuse the crown, and retreat back into his fortress of solitude until it was time to drop his next album? 

Well, now we seem to have some answers: It’s too early to tell if The Drake Effect is truly a thing of the past, but his collaboration with Sexyy Red debuting at No. 44 on the Hot 100 and sliding from there is not a great look. Neither was the parody redo of “Hey There Delilah” that he hopped on for some reason

Meanwhile, Kendrick has continued to do the opposite of what everyone, including Drake, thought he would do: Instead of vanishing, he stayed put and threw one of L.A.’s biggest rap shows in recent memory. Dot’s appeal in the hip-hop community was always A1, but after last night, it’s safe to say he’s now occupying the top spot in rap. Kendrick is the king. And he’s not the king because some critics and talking heads or kids tweeting from a suburban cul-de-sac said he’s the king. He’s the king because last night everyone — the streets, the music industry, the fans, the athletes — showed us that he is. They all popped out for their friend, their peer, their idol, their king. 

“F—k that, this s—t making me emotional, man. F—k that, we been f—d up since Nipsey died, hold up. We’ve been f—d up since Kobe died, hold up,” he told the crowd as he wrangled everybody for a family picture. “Let the world see this. You ain’t seen this many sections on one stage keeping it together and having peace, hold up.” 

Drake will be fine mainstream-wise, but he’s always wanted to be accepted by hip-hop, and right now he’s on the outside looking in. Last night proved Kendrick has more respect and cultural cachet than Drake can ever imagine having, and the must sting to an artist as massive and influential as Drake is.

Meanwhile, there’s not another artist in his generation that would be able to pull off what Kendrick pulled off last night. He had rival gangs on stage for L.A., for California, for Hip-Hop. Kendrick was running around like he was Pac fresh out on bail last night, and showed the rest of the rap game that no region is quite like the West. 

The post “Kendrick Channeled 2Pac as He Assumed the Throne at His Pop Out Concert” by Angel Diaz was published on 06/20/2024 by