Kendrick Lamar Gives An Aspiring MC The Opportunity Of A Lifetime & He Shines (Video)

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2016 has been a relatively quiet year for Kendrick Lamar. After releasing one of the most critically-acclaimed albums of all-time, with 2015’s To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick’s only LP of the year was his untitled.unmastered compilation of outtakes from TPAB. He also maintained a low profile, only doing select performances here and there.

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Last night, Kendrick performed a “surprise” show in Brooklyn, in partnership with American Express, and it was a special affair. Rather than doing a set with a DJ, he re-formed his vaunted Wesley’s Theory band, a group of musicians as talented as any in Hip-Hop, this side of The Roots. They brought to life classics from Kendrick’s entire catalog, including “Money Trees,” “A.D.H.D.,” “m.A.A.d. city,” “King Kunta,” “Alright” and more. The live band allowed his songs to open up and, as he described in an intro to the video, Kendrick breathed new life into his vocals.

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A highlight of the evening came when Kendrick invited some fans to come on stage and rhyme. While the first talked a big game, he was underwhelming, to say the least. When the second person came onstage (starting at 25:35), he recognized the enormity of the moment, as the concert was being streamed on Facebook Live (already amassing nearly 2 million views), and he seized it.

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Rather than battle Kendrick, something that most have learned not to do over the years, the aspiring MC instead entered into a true freestyle cypher with the MC formerly known as K. Dot. He and Kendrick went back and forth flipping true off the top bars. While ultimately overwhelmed by Kendrick, he was the “home team” after all, the MC had presence and swagger. Asking Kendrick to throw words at him so he could freestyle, the MC weaved in references to everything from Black Rob to Top Dawg.

Not to be outdone, Kendrick responded in kind with his own off the dome flow, referencing the year he’s had with Grammy accolades and, once again, asserting that he is above all his peers. It was a pure Hip-Hop moment and a generous gesture from an artist who has risen to the top of his game.