OK, this is so crazy to say, but I actually AM a big Kendrick Lamar fan. The oddity isn’t that I really enjoy “K.Dot;” it’s that I didn’t realize how much until I went to his “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” concert in Milwaukee Thursday night.
Let me preface this by explaining I love music, but I really love live music. Admittedly, I don’t attend concerts all that often (enter that particular day’s excuse here). So, I had no plans to see Kendrick until the opportunity presented itself through work.
Our task was to enjoy this award-winning, artistic genius while also promoting HYFIN, our new urban alternative station under Radio Milwaukee. My first thought: “This is going to be a dope, and purposeful, night.”
My second thought: “Eek, I don’t know that many Kendrick songs.”
My third thought: “Oh well.”
As our HYFIN team set up before the concert, I texted a friend to ask about her favorite Kendrick songs. I figured an actual fan would love this opportunity to truly make the night worthwhile. She’s a musichead, too, and quickly gave me four tracks:
The last one was the only song that immediately stood out to me. For the others, I had absolutely NO CLUE (or at least that’s what I thought).
In a hurry to discover this “new to me” music, I left our HYFIN room to search for those tracks on iTunes. I quickly recognized “Backseat Freestyle” — one of my favorites way back when, but clearly I’d forgotten it. As for the other two songs … nope. But with the melodies and lyrics memorized, my friend was going to get videos lovingly shot by me, as long as Kendrick played the songs.
The concert started with exciting opening performances from Tanna Leone and Baby Keem. Intermission steadied the room, and brought in some education, as fans watched a commercial on financial literacy and investing from Cash App and Kendrick’s company, pgLang.
Then it was time.
The dancers appeared first, and a box covered in fabric lifted to reveal Kendrick playing “United in Grief” on the piano accompanied by a ventriloquist puppet singing along.
From there, the show took us on a journey focused on freeing ourselves from all that encapsulates us. Throughout, we also heard from Kendrick’s “therapist,” voiced by actress Helen Mirren. Kendrick also took a COVID test onstage inside a clear, plastic box that covered him and four people in hazmat suits while “Alright” and “N95” played.
Throughout the night, he effortlessly switched between tracks I knew (“Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Humble,” “Love Me,” “We Cry Together”) and ones I didn’t (“Element,” “Family Ties,” “Savior”).
From the artistry, the emotion and the choreography, it was clear our favorite rapper was elated to return to the stage and share a universal message. When the concert was over, I realized I’d sang and rapped along to way more songs than I thought I would.
And that’s when I knew I needed to say thank you to K.Dot. Thanks for reminding me that I’ve been a fan since “good kid, m.A.A.d city.” And thanks for helping me get my friend a couple videos of her favorite songs, too.
Elizabeth Eden Harris, known professionally as Cupcakke, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. She is known for her hypersexualised, brazen, and often comical persona
Elizabeth Eden Harris, known professionally as Cupcakke, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. She is known for her hypersexualised, brazen, and often comical persona and music although she has also made songs with themes supporting LGBTQ rights, female empowerment, and autism awareness.
Acclaimed GRAMMY-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello makes her Blue Note Records debut with the June 16 release of The Omnichord Real Book, a visionary
Acclaimed GRAMMY-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello makes her Blue Note Records debut with the June 16 release of The Omnichord Real Book, a visionary and deeply jazz-influenced album that marks the start of a new chapter in her trailblazing career. Following her 2018 covers album Ventriloquism, Meshell returns with an album of new original material that taps into a broad spectrum of her musical roots. The Omnichord Real Book was produced by Josh Johnson and features a wide range of guest artists including Jason Moran, Ambrose Akinmusire, Joel Ross, Jeff Parker, Brandee Younger, Julius Rodriguez, Mark Guiliana, Cory Henry, Joan As Police Woman, Thandiswa, and others.
The Omnichord Real Book is introduced today by the expansive lead single “Virgo,” the mind-altering 8-minute centerpiece of the album which features Meshell on vocals, key bass, and keyboards, Younger on harp, Rodriguez on Farfisa organ, Chris Bruce on guitar, Jebin Bruni on keyboards, drums by Abe Rounds, Deantoni Parks, and Andrya Ambro, and additional vocals by Kenita Miller and Marsha DeBoe. The Omnichord Real Book is available for pre-order now on Blue Note Store exclusive color vinyl, black vinyl, CD, and digital.
“It’s a little bit of all of me, my travels, my life,” says Meshell. “My first record I made at 22, and it’s over 30 years from then, so I have a lot of stored information to share.” Reflecting on the impact that the forced stillness of the pandemic lockdown had on her, she says “I must admit it was a beautiful time for me. I got to really sit and reacquaint myself with music. Music is a gift.”
“This album is about the way we see old things in new ways,” Meshell explains. “Everything moved so quickly when my parents died. Changed my view of everything and myself in the blink of an eye. As I sifted through the remains of their life together, I found my first Real Book, the one my father gave me. I took their records, the ones I grew up hearing, learning, remembering. My mother gifted me with her ache, I carry the melancholy that defined her experience and, in turn, my experience of this thing called life calls me to disappear into my imagination and to hear the music.”
Milwaukee’s only Urban Alternative radio station features the full spectrum of Black music beyond R&B and Hip-Hop plus Milwaukee music. HYFIN connects the culture with the latest Black culture news, podcasts and more. Listen to best hip hop & R&B, dance, Afrobeats and more!
Our radio is always online! Listen now completely free!