Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Pop Out’ show united friends, enemies and Drake haters

Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Pop Out’ show united friends, enemies and Drake haters

Sometimes, you just have to pop out and show someone that you’re really like that. Or, in the case of Kendrick Lamar, you gather your celebrity friends and thousands of fans for a massive Los Angeles show, and stomp your foot on the career of your biggest enemy.

“The Pop Out: Ken & Friends” was held for one night only Wednesday at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif., marking Lamar’s first show since he dropped a slew of rap diss tracks against Drake, including the Billboard chart-topping “Not Like Us.” The concert, which was something of a celebration for West Coast hip-hop, brought together some of the biggest rappers and California-born NBA players, as well as what appeared to be gang-affiliated fans, into a whirlwind of a show that lasted over an hour.

Fans in the crowd rapped along as Lamar played “Not Like Us” not once, not twice but five times in a row.

People dressed in blue and red (the colors of the Crips and Bloods, respectively) gathered with him on the stage and danced together with NBA stars DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook. (LeBron James, notable Lakers star, was in attendance for the show but may have been held back from jumping onstage.).

Earlier in the show, Lamar called back to the loss of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and rapper Nipsey Hussle, both Los Angeles heroes who died in recent years. “This s–t making me emotional,” Lamar said. “We been f—ed up since Nipsey died. We been f—ed up since Kobe died. Let the world see this.”

“It was beautiful to see the whole city come together last night,” Tyler, the Creator, wrote in an X post.

Dr. Dre performed “California Love” and “Still D.R.E.” with Lamar. He also introduced the first “Not Like Us” performance by uttering the opening line, “I see dead people.”

The five performances of “Not Like Us” underscored the notion that no contemporary artist holds a grudge quite like Lamar does. He sang shortened verses for some versions of the song while other times letting the crowd sing all the lyrics for him. He dapped up DeRozan and Westbrook while the song blared in the background, and even took a massive photo with anyone who joined him onstage to cap off the night. At least, that’s how hip-hop fans saw it — most of whom seemed to delight in his unrepentant pettiness.

“Kendrick really threw his own Hatechella lol this is the hateration and holleration,” wrote one X user, referencing the Mary J. Blige’s hit song “Family Affair.”

Lamar played more than a dozen tracks throughout the night, with artists Schoolboy Q; Jay Rock; Tyler, the Creator; and Dr. Dre joining him onstage.

The show was a massive talking point on social media Wednesday night. That perhaps was not surprising, as the performance’s seats had sold out rather quickly after it was announced two weeks ago.

It was also another touchpoint in Lamar’s rap feud with Drake from earlier this year.

The concert’s focus on the feud was apparent from the beginning. “The Pop Out” show title came from a line in “Not Like Us,” and the show reportedly had merchandise that referenced the beef. Lamar kicked off his performance with “Euphoria,” the near seven-minute diss track against Drake released in April. He also performed “6:16 in LA,” an Instagram-only anti-Drake track, and “Like That,” the song that originally drew fire from Drake on which Lamar featured alongside Future.

Drake suffered the brunt of social media slander. Many commented that Drake’s team must either be widely criticizing the show to soften the blow against him or telling him to avoid it altogether. (Representatives for Drake declined to comment.) That said, some commenters huffed that Lamar owes Drake for the renewed interest in his music.

It’s unclear when or if the concert, which was live-streamed on Amazon Prime and Twitch, will be available to watch on Amazon (whose founder and board chair Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post). But a recorded version was still circulating social media Thursday.

If anything, the concert was another moment to celebrate “Not Like Us,” which landed the finishing blow on the months-long feud between Lamar and Drake.

Tensions between the two rappers have simmered for years, but the heat turned up in March after Lamar took direct aim at Drake and J. Cole in a guest verse on “Like That,” a track on the Future and Metro Boomin album “We Don’t Trust You.”

In April, Drake responded with two songs aimed at the West Coast rapper, “Push Ups” and “Taylor Made Freestyle,” goading Lamar to respond.

After weeks of silence, on April 29 the Compton native released “Euphoria,” a scalding track in which Lamar pounded his chest over being “the biggest hater.” Then in May, the pair went toe-to-toe lyrically in one of the wildest weekends in hip-hop history, with the two heavyweight rappers releasing five new diss tracks — and a music video — over the span of three days.

“Not Like Us,” with its propulsive, head-bobbing beat by DJ Mustard, landed at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 the following week. But as the dust settled on Lamar and Drake’s back-and-forth, some hip-hop fans were wary that the feud could escalate outside of the studio.

At the “Pop Out” show, Lamar proved he’s not letting the Drake beef go just yet. During his performance of “Euphoria,” Lamar added a new lyric that referenced Drake buying the valuable ring of Tupac Shakur, one of the most idolized West Coast rappers of all-time.

“Give me Tupac ring back,” Lamar rapped to the buzzing crowd of fans, “and I might give you a little respect.”