At age 8, a young Kendrick Lamar was shuttled to the Compton swap meet for the filming of 2Pac and Dre’s iconic “California Love”. On that day 18 years ago the stars must have aligned — a little boy sitting on his father’s shoulders would one day take the rap game by storm. “That’s a moment that I’ll never forget,” Kendrick said in a recorded video for the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Awards. “15, 20 years later I’m doing the same thing they was doing.”
Last year he lit up festival season dropping a lone DJ for a full band; this year he’s working the awards circuit, most notably the mash-up collaboration with Imagine Dragons at the Grammy’s. For Thursday’s show, in Los Angeles, Kendrick went back to his roots and performed a cover of “California Love” with a mob of TDE t-shit wearing fans huddled around the stage bouncing to his every word. Energy levels peaked as he commanded everyone to put their hands up and transitioned into “m.A.A.d City”. Even the celebs in the back put down their campaign glasses to bob in rhythm.