Leading up to NBA All-Star Weekend, the DAMN. rapper teased his partnership with Nike, issuing the following statement: “They say it’s a man’s world. I say a woman is art in motion. What is more worthy than art? From the beauty of their physical. To the grace of their mental and spiritual. I was produced from the creation of a woman. Let’s continue to celebrate more of her creations.”
In light of this theme, Kung Fu Kenny tapped female creatives — DJ Millie, Kamaiyah, Sabrina Claudio and H.E.R. — to serve as opening acts at Saturday night's show.
Earlier during a Nike-hosted conversation, he gushed over these female powerhouses, saying, “Some of the greatest artists, period. I don’t even like to say women or female. They’re just great, period. H.E.R., Claudio, Kamaiyah, DJ Millie. Everyone is just doing their thing and so many more. You know, just a few to mention their names, but we’ll have a good time tonight and hopefully y’all can feel their talents the way I feel them.”
For more on the conversation with Kendrick Lamar, here’s an overview of the rapper’s intimate and honest discussion.
Kendrick on his new Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny II sneakers: “It’s a classic L.A. feel. It’s a context for anything though — anything you’re going through in life. Or don’t trip on the hater that is looking at you. [When they are] trying to take your shoes off because they’re fly like that.”
The difference between designing shoes and making music: “It’s almost like the same process for me… a lot of detail. I like to have every little nick and nack counter or apart from each other, so people can appreciate that.”
K. Dot’s constant inspiration: "These kids right here [middle schoolers from Enterprise School]. This is the inspiration. Being in their shoes, I was once in a place where they were at — a lot of dreams and aspirations. Looking at them and wondering where I want to go, and I can see that vibe and I can see they have a lot of energy for walking out here. That’s something I respect."
On how he makes art for himself first: “I’m making something for myself first. I got to be comfortable with it 100%. I got to feel good about it. I got to feel like I can wear something on the daily and something I can listen to on the daily. Then, give it out to the world, and hopefully they feel the same.”
How the rapper views females and their roles in art: “I always feel like from day one, women are the original curators of the world as far as creativity. We can go back with the creation of life. Some of the greatest ideas of man were always behind a woman. I wanted women to experience it the same way I felt from it and create.”
On his love for sneakers: "I was always into it [sneakers]. With hip-hop and music, they go hand in hand. You had to feel as if you were fresh… feel like you were the best rapper in middle school or high school. You had to have that… you know, it’s just a vibe. Something that wasn’t calculated."
His favorite sneaker: "I always love the Air Maxes — the 97 and the 95s for a long time."
Creative projects Kendrick would like to pursue: "Getting into film. Probably directing, writing film. You got to evolve with writing."
The Black Panther: The Album curator hit the stage for approximately 40 minutes, beginning the show with “Element” off his recent solo album, DAMN. He continued with “Loyalty” before completely switching over to earlier music. Songs ranged from varying projects, including “untitled 07” off his compilation album, untitled unmastered., and his collaboration with Travis Scott, “Goosebumps."
There was a moment when the Compton native stopped performing to ask the audience a very serious question: “Anyone rocking with me since day one? Let’s put you to the test.”
Following the endearing interruption, King Kendrick went straight into the classic “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and followed it with “Backseat Freestyle” and “Money Trees.”
Keeping in spirit of female empowerment, the Grammy-winning artist once again put a halt to the show to call all the beautiful ladies in attendance and kindly asked them to "make some noise" for themselves. Sure enough, he utilized his very own song “LOVE.” featuring Zacari to expand on his gratitude for the women in the crowd. It's safe to say every women in the room was smitten over the sweet moment.
The vibes were brought back up when he transitioned into “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and ended with some of his most upbeat singles to date, “Alright” and “Humble.” While the set was fairly short, his performance still proves his inimitable presence in hip-hop today.