Chiefer Adam here. I had the esteemed opportunity to photographically capture an inspirational and important moment in time this past week. The final show of the BET Music Matters Tour featuring the hip-hop masterminds Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Stalley and Fly Union took place at The Depot in Salt Lake City. The spacious two tier room facilitated what would be the last official performance by Kendrick Lamar before the critically acclaimed and community hyped major label debut Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City would drop. The resulting success in the days since the release have been the culmination of something many of us saw building for the past few years, but more importantly it was this landmark performance in an unsuspecting hip-hop town that really drove home this noteworthy sonic movement in rap music. The realization that something special is happening here was personified to all present as Kendrick flowed through choice cuts of his discography, often enlisting the help of the crowd for filling in gaps of acapella breakdowns. Everyone was an enlightened fan, and the fans rapped every word of everything from the unreleased new tracks to obscure old freestyles.
The energy was toxic and at times even overwhelming. Never before have I seen a hip-hop crowd engage with such enthusiasm without the need for commands from the emcee. The pulse simply dictated kinetic reactions. The beauty of the night was that from Fly Union’s hype opening set to Stalley’s signature live spitting dexterity to Jay Rock making to the crowd jump to Ab-Soul spinning complex verbal tales with effortless poise to the extended set from Kendrick, the enery never once let up. I left inspired. It’s been a while since live music has had that effect on me, and I see half as many shows as there are days in the year. From seeing these TDE representatives at a backstreet house party with 100 people in Austin during South By Southwest , to now selling out theaters and clubs across the country, the one thing that has not lost it’s touch is the sonic endurance and progression these guys bring to everything they touch. I hope you enjoy this small piece of the puzzle that I was able to archive for future reflection as we buckle in for what they have planned next.