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Show Recap: Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock Unleash their HiiiPower on NYC

Kendrick Lamar greeted the sold-out crowd last night (September 15) at New York City’s Terminal 5 with a heartfelt “it feels good to be home.” Kendrick opened hard with a string of Section.80 bangers that included “HiiiPower,” “Fuck Your Ethnicity,” “Hol’ Up” and “A.D.H.D.”

The Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) crew has been on the BET Music Matters tour for a week now, but the rigor of the nightly shows was only evident in Kendrick’s hoarse voice. He powered through a long set of old and new tracks, letting the on-point audience finish line after line for him as he bounced back and forth across the stage under a banner advertising his upcoming album, good kid, m.A.A.d city.

Standing by the tour bus after the show, Kendrick told XXL, “I love New York, and it was a great show. Every time I come out here, they give me love and they give me energy, so it was well expected. But tonight they overdid themselves.”

TDE gave New York a solid night of hip-hop even before Kendrick took the stage. Jay Rock opened with the aggressive verses and energetic presence he’s becoming known for, ending with “YOLA,” a track he dropped last month as part of TDE’s Fam Appreciation Week. As the pounding bass shook the club’s floors and walls, the Watts MC told the all-ages crowd: “I see all colors out here—I love that shit!”

Ab-Soul jumped onstage next, rolling out a half-hour of rhymes that the crowd chanted along with in perfect unison. From the revolutionary fire of “Terrorist Threats” to the smooth, funky “Bohemian Grove,” the audience stayed right with Soulo as he danced through his versatile catalog of records. Before finishing up with “Pineal Gland,” he shouted out a closing reminder: “If you learn nothing else tonight, remember this—you’ve got three eyes.”

When asked after the show if it felt different than other times he’s performed in New York, Soulo told XXL, “I think you subconsciously match the energy of the crowd all the time. I gave a lot of my energy out so I know it was crackin’, I know it was crazy. We definitely building, so I can always see a gradual progression—more people coming out, more people familiar with the words, more energy.”

With a flawless performance that was technically disciplined and non-stop energetic, Kendrick and the TDE boys once again showed the finesse that’s “HiiiPower.” —Katie Moore

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