Local Wire

Kendrick Lamar @ Mesa Amphitheatre

Kendrick Lamar isn't the first young rapper to spend the better part of his breakthrough album asking what it means to be a good person. He's not even the first young rapper to frame said album with a vague concept. But where Kid Cudi's Man on the Moon: The End of Day struggled to figure out where its protagonist's problems came from, and how to make them sympathetic, good kid, m.A.A.d. city builds a remarkably full picture of Lamar's struggling, confused hero, who stumbles through the twin title tracks before emerging victorious with Dr. Dre in "Compton." Which brings us to the real Kendrick Lamar: Having survived the story the album tells — his unnerving, anonymous tour as "Compton's human sacrifice" — Lamar now is one of the biggest stars in hip-hop. So which side of his album's fascinating story arc is the artist who'll be performing it now coming from? The odd (and compelling) thing about a concept album that hews so closely to real life is that every time you see Kendrick Lamar perform good kid, m.A.A.d. city live, you're watching a sequel.

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Dan Moore