Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar ... let chaos rule. Photo: Martin Boulton

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Reader rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (3 votes)

Kendrick Lamar

Enmore Theatre, December 20

Mad. Mad. Mad. Good kid. Mad city.

That sums it up for me. Can I just leave it there?

I'm frothing for this 25-year-old from Compton, California. but it's not just me. Kendrick Lamar Duckworth has everyone from Dr Dre to Lady Gaga in a lather.

He's the hottest new kid in hip hop; a little guy with a crank voice and big ideas about beauty, power, relationships, love and survival.

He sold out the Metro Theatre in minutes and forced an upgrade to the Enmore, which sold out just as quickly and turned into a heaving, sticky mass of people chanting his name long before he was due on stage.

Smell that? It's the sweaty scent of zeitgeist. Take a whiff and breathe it in.

New artists often attract a certain kind of frisson when they finally do their first show in Australia after exploding internationally but few make a room bounce like this.

Lamar didn't work overly hard. With Ali on the decks and the usual crowd of minders and bouncers watching over proceedings, he mixed up rhymes, diverted into an occasional freestyle, let tracks peter out unspectacularly in a capella style and squandered the structure and subtleness that has so engaged his listeners.

There was a mild anarchy to the set list that chopped and changed and went wherever it wanted. Even to the end, chaos ruled as he said "f--k you" to his manager after two encores and performed HiiiPoWeR half-cooked and impromptu.

But, damn, if that's what he can do at 60 per cent capacity ...

Technical prowess was traded for grit-your-teeth potency. The subtle and unusual hooks of A.D.H.D and Money Trees were blown to pieces and, instead, he turned up the insane bass of m.A.A.d city and hammed up the uncharacteristic arrogance of Backseat Freestyle.

There were throwbacks to P&P (Pussy and Patron) and plenty of love for his second album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, which has topped countless album of the year lists.

And while the ego is rising as quickly as the album sales, Lamar had the kind of big love and gratitude we weren't expecting.

"I don't know how big this shit is gonna go," he told the Enmore, "but no matter what, I will always come back to this place."