For those of us who missed out on tickets to Kendrick Lamar’s Bluesfest sideshows, we’re already upset enough as it is. Seeing a video of Kendrick performing alongside the United States National Symphony Orchestra? It hurts a little bit more but the video is enough to make you feel a little bit better.
Lamar announced he’d perform alongside the Orchestra a month ago, solely playing tracks from his latest release To Pimp A Butterfly, which dropped over seven months ago (though it feels like only yesterday). TPAB is already a very live instrument driven record, swapping the synths, samples and electronic production of Good Kid M.A.A.D City for piano, brass, strings and accentuated percussion. So, it makes perfect sense that Kendrick decided to work alongside one of the best live performance groups in the world to bring TPAB into a very different setting. The best clip that’s come out of it so far is, of course, of Kendrick rocking King Kunta. Though it’s hard to hear much above the audience screaming along (understandable), you can hear that there’s a whole bunch of fantastic string and wind instrument licks that’ve been added to the original. It’s a super different setting as well, with everyone obviously sitting down in a concert hall rather than jumping in the pit, but for an album like TPAB, that’s the best way to listen to it? It’s one of the most political and insightful rap albums released in the last decade, and we’re still unraveling all the meaning in Kendrick’s lyrics – it demands to be listened to properly. Also, the conductor is grooving hard.
Though it’s upsettingly unlikely, one can dream that Kendrick might bring the same kind of performance down under at some stage. He’s hitting up Bluesfest next year, and tickets are on sale here. His sideshows have already sold out, but fingers crossed for more.