Pitchfork Day 3: Kendrick Lamar, a dash of Lady Gaga and Oneohtrix Point Never

July 15, 2012

Poor Kendrick Lamar: The thing that everyone was going to be talking about as soon as she arrived backstage was Lady Gaga, not the artist in question performing. To make matters worse, Gaga didn't even join him for his set but grooved on the side, smoking a cigarette.

At least she seemed to be enjoying herself; I didn't find Lamar any different than your typical untalented rapper, hiding behind samples and beats that have already been made famous by another. Whether it was the constant horn blast, his calls for "Any beautiful ladies in Chicago right now?", or boring use of less-than-family-friendly-language in "A.D.H.D", it was all sort of the usual thing.

"When I go back to Compton I like to chill with the folks," he said of his hometown. "They're like chill people." This was one of several references to Compton, dropped in, I suppose, to make us feel as though Lamar is one of the people. He felt far from it. His one moment of concern was for a young (female) fan in the audience, who looked as though she might have a case of heat stroke. Once it was clear she was alright with a thumbs up from her friends, it was, in Lamar's words, "Back to your regularly scheduled program" -- i.e. him.

"This next record, I wrote this in a crazy space. I was on my mom's couch. I knew it would touch a lot of you motherf***ers and would hurt a lot of you motherf***ers." Sorry Lamar, rapping about "Rigamortis" is literally about as moving as your song about a pool full of liquor. Last time I checked, rappers that have been commercially successful and still one with the people exist; see Common or Taleb Kweli. Those rocking deep narcissim but honesty about it end up like Kanye. The in-between both worlds isn't working.

"I need you to recognize that my plan is to win your hearts before I win a Grammy," Lamar said. I fear for those chances, as well as the likelihood of finding the right women, weed and weather to keep anyone happy.

At least Lamar was memorable; his the crowd was desperately clamoring for him to start. When Oneohtrix Point Never aka Daniel Lopatin went on, thus began the slow exodus of fans toward AraabMuzik. Lopatin didn't make people wait, coming on quickly and with little fanfare, but he also didn't have much of a chance to retain fans; I can't much think of a weirder line-up choice to follow Kendrick Lamar than this Dan Deacon-esque music (but without enough hook or screwed up beats). It was only three songs in that he broke into some sort of George of the Jungle, Phil Collins-inspired tune, but by that point, my attention span was broken and I wandered away, following the crowds of eager fans still on a high from their taste of rap for the day.