American Express Music Presents: Kendrick Lamar Live At Music Hall Of Williamsburg In Brooklyn, NY
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Kendrick Lamar performs onstage during American Express Music Presents: Kendrick Lamar Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg on December 16, 2016 Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express)

Watch Last Night’s Kendrick Lamar Pop-Up Show in BK

Compton’s own Kendrick Lamar put on a surprise show in Brooklyn last night. These days the Grammy-winning Top Dawg Entertainment God MC (and Mass Appeal cover artist) normally rocks massive arenas, but this particular show took place at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, which accommodates maybe 550 persons. “It’s been a long time since I played such an intimate venue,” he told the crowd. “I’m loving it.”

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The American Express–sponsored concert was open to cardmembers only—plus a handful of press and V.I.P.s including Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudeikis, Steven & Hailey Baldwin, Santigold and Wyatt Cenac. After a tasty DJ set from Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who blended beaucoup Native Tongues breaks, the crowd was amped and ready for Kendrick’s arrival.

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Strolling around the stage wearing BAPE shorts and a big smile, K-Dot blessed his fans with a 35-minute set packed with cuts going all the way back to “ADHD” off Section.80 and forward to “Levitate” off Untitled Unmastered—as well as plenty of joints from TPAB and good kid, m.A.A.d city. (We’re guessing Top Dawg raked in plenty of leaves from Amex’s “Money Trees.”) Backed by the blazing TDE rhythm section (which included Freaky Rob from Chicago on the guitar) Kendrick thrived on the concentrated energy inside the building, reminiscing about the days when he used to gig at smaller NYC venues like SOBs. A montage of carefully curated black-and-white video clips were projected onto the stage itself, creating a poignant counterpoint to Lamar’s lyricism.

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“We got the accolades, we got the motherfuckin’ trophies but nothin’ is more important than y’all out here,” K-Dot expressed at one point. “Y’all my motherfuckin’ vessel. God using me as a vessel to tell y’all stories and tell my own as well. Believe that.”

As usual Kendrick set aside a little time for a few members of the audience to rock the mic. The first contestant—a hapless white boy who shall forever remain nameless—got booed offstage for his lackluster efforts, but a youth named Jerome fared much better and Kemba‘s acapella verse at the 30-minute mark took top honors. “He was kickin’ some real motherfuckin’ shit,” Kendrick enthused.

For those who weren’t fortunate enough to experience this in person, the good folks at Amex streamed the whole thing via Kendrick’s Facebook page. But the video only lasts for a week, so don’t sleep.

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