It almost doesn’t need to be announced that Kendrick Lamar’s performance on Stephen Colbert’s second episode of the Late Show was spectacular. But, what the hell: it was spectacular. Lamar flowed seamlessly from To Pimp a Butterfly tracks “Wesley’s Theory” to “Momma” to “King Kunta,” and finally “u.”
Typically, when artists perform medleys of album highlights, it can be hard to connect with any of the moments, out of a paralyzing anticipating of the song being cut off at any key moment — but Lamar’s intense command and dynamic backing band (featuring Thundercat — an influential force on To Pimp a Butterfly — and Bilal) is such that he never grants you time for such preoccupation.
As Consequence of Sound notes, the rapper was the final musical act for The Colbert Report, and it seems that Colbert and his Late Show team thought that, similarly, a Lamar performance would be just as explosive an accompaniment for a debut as a finale. See just how right they were: