Kendrick Lamar garnered 11 Grammy nominations ahead of the upcoming 2016 awards show, the most of any currently nominated artist.
His To Pimp a Butterfly is up for Album of the Year as well as Best Rap Album and his song "Alright" is up for Song of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Music Video and Best Rap Song. He's also nominated as the composer of "All Day," which Kanye West recorded, for Best Rap Song, and in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Dance Recording, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video for collaborations, most notably "Bad Blood" with Taylor Swift.
Here's a glimpse back at his last stop in Dallas on October 29:
Approaching the home stretch of a year when he rose to the top of rap's heap, 28-year-old California spitter Kendrick Lamar roared into South Side Ballroom to give Dallas its taste of his Kunta's Groove Sessions tour. Here's what you should know about the big show.
Happened in the right place
It's fortunate that organizers opted to set up Thursday's show in the spacious South Side Ballroom configuration of the Gilley's complex, rather than try to squeeze everyone into the much tighter Music Hall space. This move allowed for considerable breathing room and comfort, even if three-quarters of the crowd still opted to jockey for position in front of the stage. And Lamar seemed to love the room, especially since he'd played there before a few years ago. This time around, it felt more intimate: "I've performed for 80 thousand, 100 thousand, but nothing feels like this intimate crowd right here," the rapper said before an off-the-rails rendition of "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe."
The people did their part
Another benefit to the open venue: it allowed folks to surround the stage with few barriers or distractions in their way. That's how it should be for a performer of Lamar's style and energy -- the closer he can be to his crowd, the greater the intensity. That theory was put to the test three songs into his headlining set when he held his mike out to them during the first few lines of "Backseat Freestyle." They rapped every word without his help, setting him up to absolutely slay on the breathless verses of the song. That's how several of the more popular tunes unfolded -- Lamar would let his fans do a line or two, but when he rapped, he went hard and didn't cut corners.
About that band ...
The four-piece band backing Lamar, dubbed the Wesley Theory, injected many of the significant grooves into Kunta's Groove Sessions. Equally adept in funk, hip-hop, jazz, R&B and rock, they made opening act Jay Rock's on-stage DJ pale in comparison. To be fair, Rock did what he could with his limited resources and kept the crowd interested, but his set didn't come anywhere close to Lamar's regarding expansiveness of sound. Lamar's band began his set on a high note from To Pimp a Butterfly, the jazz freakout piece "For Free?" The band helped string everything together in the set with their interludes, and they gave Lamar some truly special moments of performance, such as when he rapped over only a live bass line during "These Walls."
Hooray for the old stuff
While Lamar's third album, To Pimp a Butterfly, has dominated hip-hop conversations all year in and still stands as one of the finest all-around albums of 2015, it wasn't the sole focus of Thursday's set list. There were plenty of treats for the hordes of diehards that he calls his "day ones." Reactions to songs from the 2012 breakout sophomore LP Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City were overwhelming. When the people shouted "Halle Berry, hallelujah" during "Money Trees," I thought they were going to collectively levitate. And they somehow went even wilder a few minutes later when Lamar did the "yawk yawk yawk yawk!" refrain in "M.A.A.D. City."
Butterfly takes flight
The insightful and political material of the latest album did get a substantial showcase throughout Lamar's set. What's remarkable about its range is that some songs gave the crowd a chance to lean back a little ("Institutionalized," "Hood Politics") while others had them bouncing and rapping along uncontrollably ("King Kunta"). That's one sign that the album won't soon fade from memory, even if Lamar moves on fully to newer music the next time he's in town. "This may be my first and last time playing To Pimp a Butterfly," he said Thursday. If that's the case, Dallas got pretty lucky as one of the 10 or so stops on his tour.