A strong Saturday Night Live showing can serve as a glimpse into the future, depending on the parties involved. With Kanye West, “Black Skinhead” proved to audiences that a break from format with an outside-the-box presentation could achieve great things on an otherwise blank and boring soundstage. Sam Smith offered “Stay With Me” to the masses as his introduction to the world before he became the biggest voice of 2014, a trend Hozier would repeat a few months later. Waning interest in Iggy Azalea followed up her flop, while the public’s curiosity about St. Vincent piqued and Miley Cyrus was redeemed.
And with the good kid from m.A.A.d city? This week’s SNL may as well be a Magic 8 Ball, because this was the first official indication that 2015 will be the Year of Kendrick Lamar.
Kendrick’s blown through SNL before, both as a breath of fresh air during an otherwise boring set from Imagine Dragons and solo for a spot of “Swimming Pools (Drank).” It’s been a minute since we’ve seen new material, and the prospect of the next Kendrick album, due early next year, had fans falling all over themselves with the Isley Brothers-sampling “i.” The single received the proper, fully fleshed-out treatment on SNL with a full, extraordinary band behind it, and that was to say nothing about Kendrick’s own inspired, eccentric output. Donning black contacts and the dance moves of a man possessed, he flailed, spat, kicked, and screamed his way through the single’s verses, breathing in the fire from his band and fueling each word with their flames.
Chantal Kreviazuk and Jay Rock joined Kendrick and crew for “Pay for It,” which followed suit in “i” ‘s excellence and energy. While plenty of pop and hip-hop performances have fallen flat on SNL (namely Iggy, Ariana Grande, and Eminem, in recent months), Kendrick’s soared, and his penchant for collaboration and surrounding himself with the best musical company he can find ensured that success. There’s only so much a flat backing track and glorified karaoke can do, and Kendrick delivered a full-throttle performance that put his verses and impeccable ear at the forefront. If this is a fraction of what to expect from Kendrick Lamar’s live show and the music on deck, we’re in for a hell of a year ahead.
As for the internet at large, Twitter agreed, for the most part, though the majority of K-Dot’s fans could’ve gone without his braid job and ghoulish contacts.
What we’re sayin’!
Dear Hip Hop,
Ditch the Macbook. Pick up a drumset, bass and a guitar.
— Bobby Egan (@TheBegan) November 16, 2014
Kendrick Lamar really performed with his hair half braided last night on #SNL. That’s hella boss.
— Mr. Wright (@Tru2TY) November 16, 2014
More like start makin’ sense amirite
Kendrick Lamar really knocked me out on SNL last night. Dude’s as focused & intense as David Bryne was with Talking Heads.
— Jack Criddle (@southboundsix) November 16, 2014
By what logic?
— Joe Diamond (@Lionface) November 16, 2014
A compliment by all accounts.
Kendrick Lamar is on baby stepping his way to looking like funk master George Clinton
— Gninnal Ymmij (@JLanning44) November 16, 2014
More saturated than your Lo Fi Instagram filter.
Kendrick Lamar has decadent artistry- very saturated vibes to his work if you’re sensitive to that type of thing
— Sterleone (@Sterleone) November 16, 2014
Again: by what logic?
Literally Beleive @kendricklamar isn’t human
— Elijah Isaiah (@GoldenBoy_Eli) November 16, 2014
OKAY MR. BELDING
Excuse me sir @kendricklamar. Step into my office. We need to talk.
— tee. (@ArmedBeauty) November 16, 2014
Except EVERYONE was talking about Kendrick’s eyes.
everybody keeps talking about the kendrick lamar snl performance but no one is talking about his contact lenses like what’s up with that????
— TRILLMORE GIRL$ (@LifeWithNoPants) November 16, 2014
— HipHop (@hiphopfans365) November 16, 2014
Kendrick Lamar’s eyes on SNL last night were hella scary like wtf
— Fatia (@leija_farr) November 16, 2014
Something in Kendrick Lamar’s eyes in don’t like… #lrt
— Gracie Bright (@suckafreeGRACE) November 16, 2014