Kung Fu Kenny will make his Kansas City debut on Wednesday, Aug. 16. While Kendrick Lamar has performed in Kansas City several times, the rapper from Compton, Calif., is unveiling his alter ego on his current tour.
“Damn,” Lamar’s explosive new album, is punctuated by the presence of Kung Fu Kenny, an amusing conceit that reflects the project’s earthly concerns. A brief tongue-in-cheek film depicting Lamar as Kung Fu Kenny set the tone for the corresponding tour. A few of the wardrobe choices and stage sets mirror the theme.
The lighthearted kicks and jabs are a welcome change of pace for Lamar. Unlike his high-minded previous work, “Damn” is a collection of immediately accessible bangers. His newfound versatility makes Lamar even more consequential. He doesn’t seem out of line when he boldly raps that he’s “Mr. One Through Five” on “Element,” an assertion that he deserves to occupy all five slots in a list of the greatest rappers. As if alarmed by his formidable cultural influence, Fox News commentators have criticized Lamar, slights that are sampled on “Damn.”
The Aug. 16 show will begin with a pair of Kung Fu Kenny-approved opening acts. Although he’s three years younger than Lamar, YG sounds like an old-school rapper in the vein of 2Pac and Ice Cube. D.R.A.M., an adaptable artist from Virginia, is best known for his collaboration with Lil Yachty on the novelty hit “Broccoli.” Tickets are $39.50-$99.50 through sprintcenter.com.
Concert previews by Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink