The West held it down last night (March 27) at San Francisco's Regency Ballroom for XXL's Freshman Live showcase. Headlined by acts like current 2012 Freshman Hopsin and last year's alumni Kendrick Lamar, the XXL-stamped artists delivered quite the show at the multi-level venue.

As the energetic lyricist he is, Hopsin kicked the night off by dishing out his arsenal of potent tracks including the brash “Illmind of Hopsin 4,” the cheeky “Baby’s Daddy,” and the scathing “Kill Her”—the latter during which he commanded the packed house to chant, “Fuck Ruthless Records!”





Kendrick Lamar







But the momentum in the room hoisted-up another level once Compton star Kendrick Lamar hit the stage.

“Fire burning inside my eyes, this the music that saved my life/Y'all be calling it hip-hop, I be calling it hypnotize,” he spat while entering with Section.80’s gripping opener “Fuck Your Ethnicity.” “Don’t mistake me for no fuckin’ rapper/They sit backstage and hide behind them fuckin’ cameras/I mosh pit/Had a microphone and I tossed it/Had a brain, then I lost it.”

After seguing into the breezy “Hol’ Up”—another cut off the critically-acclaimed 2010 project— K. Dot took things back a bit as he appeased long-time fans with performances of select fan-favorites “P&P,” “She Needs Me,” “Cut You Off,” and the rousing “Michael Jordan," which he dedicated to the late Trayvon Martin, howling “There will be fucking justice.”

Needless to say, the TDE rhymer had the crowd at the palm of his hands. “KENDRICK, KENDRICK,” chanted fans who packed the entire venue while devotedly hanging on to the rapper’s every word.

“Let me tell you what my Pops once told me,” he roared. “Be spiteful than a motherfucka,’” Kendrick bellowed before the instrumental to “The Spiteful Chant” clamored throughout the house. Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any more exciting, KL hurled more tricks up his sleeves as he slipped into joints like the tranquilizing “A.D.H.D.”, “Blow My High (Members Only),” “Rigamortus,” “Chapter Six,” and the atmospheric “HiiPower.”

As the night drew to a close, K. Dot finished things off with a first-ever performance of his Gunplay-assisted “Cartoons & Cereal;” the rapper said it best with his last verse.

“Everybody wanna know my life/How did I make it past yours/Well let me tell you like this/I’ve been running this shit since I asked for it."

Both Hopsin and Kendrick put on for the left coast’s Bay Area. The XXL Freshmen Live tour’s next stop will be in Atlanta, GA on April 1st featuring performances from 2008 Freshman Wale and current 2012 class members Don Trip and Roscoe Dash. Get your tickets here. —Ralph Bristout