Kendrick Lamar’s Fire Burns Bright In Brilliant Los Angeles Homecoming Show

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Before his sold-out return to L.A.'s Arena, last night (September 14, 2022) the last time I saw Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar at the venue was when he performed at a private party for Kobe Bryant's jersey retirement ceremony.

Lamar performed in the very intimate reception before a who's who of NBA legends, including Bryant, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and more. Watching Lamar last night in the first of his four sold-out night homecoming, it makes so much sense why Lamar was the perfect artist to perform for all those NBA greats.

Like all those icons — Russell with his 11 championships, Jabbar (6), Johnson (5), Bryant (5) — Lamar is clearly driven by the quest for greatness. From the opening "United For Grief" Lamar performed with the fire and intensity of an athlete determined to bring home the championship on this night.

As is the case with stage presence, the quest for greatness is an innate trait. You are either born with that passion or not. In musical comparisons you see that drive in Miles Davis, John Coltrane, David Bowie, Prince, Joni Mitchell and a handful of others. That is why Lamar has risen to the absolute pinnacle of his musical generation, While others are trying for TikTok followers or staying stupid things like, "Doing it for the Gram," Lamar is chasing true artistry not for fame or fortune, but for the desire within to see what he can accomplish .

Driven by that internal push, the way great athletes are, he showed at he can reach true artistic greatness. He displayed that again and again throughout the two hours, doing it with style and fervor consistently.

Highlights included "LOVE.," which done with four backup singers/dancers felt like a Seventies soul revue; the ferocious power of "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe"; of course "m.A.A.d City"; the majesty of "Humble" ; "Vent" and "Range Brothers," done with opener Baby Keem, and "DNA."

For all of the standout songs though, the show wasn't about the individual power of specific moments though. The quest for true greatness is continual. Just as the greatest athletic achievements aren't about one made shot in the NBA or one touchdown, it's about a great game or season. And similarly so much of the brilliance of last night was the way Lamar never let up. His drive for greatness is an ongoing quest, one we all get to appreciate for a long time to come.


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