Kung Fu Kenny knows how to put on a DAMN. good show. Fresh off the release of his third major label studio album, Kendrick Lamar capped off Weekend 1 of Coachella on Sunday night (Apr. 16) with a hiii-powered performance filled with surprises and smashes. Boasting stage design by The Little Homies — a creative collective comprised of Kendrick and TDE President Dave Free — the Compton native unleashed a visually dazzling and energetic set, backed by a potent live band.
Things kicked off with a martial arts-themed video of K-Dot and his sensei, a motif that would carry on through the entire set. After an explosive opening, Mr. 1 Through 5 went into the emphatic “DNA.,” and the infectious “ELEMENT.,” two brand new cuts off his latest LP. Eventually, he would also perform joints like “PRIDE.” and “GOD.” off the album, as well.
But longtime fans were also fulfilled with past album favorites, starting with To Pimp a Butterfly’s “King Kunta,” with its West Coast bounce for his home state crowd. From there, Dot was a maestro with his discography, flowing from good kid, m.A.A.d. city gems like “Money Trees,” “Backseat Freestyle,” “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and “m.A.A.d. city” to TPAB‘s ever-hopeful “Alright.” He even got in on untitled unmastered bangers like “untitled 07” and “untitled 02.”
In between a discography-spanning set, special guests graced the stage, starting with Travis Scott, who animated the crowd with his “goosebumps” slapper. Later, fellow TDE/Interscope spitter ScHoolboy Q emerged for a solo rendition of “THat Part,” and Future came out for a “Mask Off” surprise.
Visually, Kung Fu Kenny kept things interesting, from his martial arts-inspired dancers and his kung fu videos down to the evolving set and its visual effects. During “PRIDE.,” Kendrick appeared to defy gravity, laying down on the air. During “GOD.” a large screen filled with waves tilted and shifted, creating an Inception effect. One of the more symbolic portions of the performance came when Kendrick sat in a cube-shaped contraption of lights in the middle of the crowd for “LUST.” Then, he emerged triumphantly on top of that makeshift stage for “Money Trees.”
To close things out, Lamar performed “HUMBLE.,” the lead single off DAMN. which was produced by Mike WiLL Made-It. With its thumping drums, the song appeared to be the finisher, however, that wouldn’t be the end. After a brief pause, Kendrick came back for “LOVE.,” the Zacari-assisted and Teddy Walton produced ode to romance, trust, and loyalty.
As the infectious cut played out, Kendrick stopped for a moment of gratitude with the Indio, Calif. crowd. “I want to thank y’all for coming out tonight,” he said. “I really appreciate y’all. I had a good motherfuckin’ time with y’all. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for purchasing my new album DAMN. God motherfuckin’ damn. I really love y’all for that.”
Pointing to the crowd, he reflected on his career, from his early mixtape days and his first Coachella appearance to where he was standing at midnight this evening. As a nod to his longtime fans, he closed the curtains with a rally cry TDE has now made famous.
“These is all my motherfuckin’ day ones,” he said, pointing at the crowd. “Day motherfuckin’ two, three, and four. With that being said, Hiii motherfuckin’ Power forever.”