Cape Town, South Africa’s Bellville Velodrome set the scene on Sunday, Feb. 9 for Kendrick Lamar’s Miller Boomtown South African tour, marking the L.A. rapper’s first foray into the country. He had performed in both Durban and Johannesburg respectively, but he saved the best for last. There were no special surprises or gimmicks and the crowd didn’t need any; they had all they wanted draped in camouflaged attire rocking a pair of Nike sneakers rapping his ass off for them.
The hype leading up to the show was consuming, yet it did no justice to the physical phenomenon that graced the Mother City with his presence. From the moment he stepped out on stage, chants could be heard flowing through the velodrome. Hip-hop was in the building.
As Kendrick moved from performing his verses off of other rappers hit tracks to performing hits of his very own from Section.80 and good kid, m.A.A.d city, he might as well have put the entire velodrome onstage as the crowd echoed his every word. It was fascinating and completely enthralling to be caught up in that kind of energy, and as expected, there were the believers and the non-believers. But Kendrick Lamar changed perceptions and rapped like his life depended on it. The crowd couldn’t help but get lost in the moment.
“Sing About Me” was canvassed by camera phones and lighters in the air. Kendrick stopped rapping for “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” and let the crowd serenade him. He delivered his “Fuckin’ Problems” verse with the smoothest a cappella and when he dropped “A.D.H.D” fans lost their minds. There were times where he needn’t even have rapped—he had everyone in the palm of his hand as he flexed his word play game without missing a beat. Towards the end of the show he selected three fans from the masses and performed a freestyle with them by his side onstage.
There was a feeling in the air that this night was about hip-hop; grown hip-hop. Outside in the smoking section, one could hear debates going on between fans of the genre and fans of Kendrick. And in the spirit of turnin’ up, Miller had the drinks flowing. If anything, in a city called Cape Town in South Africa, Kendrick Lamar came and instilled a new-found sense of energy into hip-hop on his first visit to the continent. As a fan, to see him live was pretty spectacular. Something a little like magic.