Hed: The Championship Tour
Dek: What do athletes do when they win? Go to Disney Land, of course.
Fitting, the stage was outfitted in red and white—an answer to Disney’s signature blue and white color scheme. Life size posters transformed each individual musician into a character of an athlete. There was an accompanying portable basketball net in the center of the stage. Even though the sports references were abound, it felt like a makeshift stage for the real pointers: Hello, Kendrick Lamar.
Top Dawg Entertainment’s The Championship Tour featuring the Black Panther album’s executive producer Kendrick Lamar, NJ Native SZA, and missing-in-action on Instagram (with zero posts) Schoolboy Q completed 29 high-energy tour dates in The United States.
Fresh off The Championship Tour’s last United States tour date on Saturday, June 18, 2018, which is examined below, headliner KendrickLamar finds himself in Europe, at the start of its summer splendor with a special focus on The United Kingdom, including 4 festival shows.
In the mean time, consider this a generational reintroduction to what essentially is a generation’s cry for a new, hip-hop super-star. King Kendrick has arrived. (Again).
Two sparkling new TDE CD’s, DAMN. and the soundtrack to the movie Black Panther are still wrapped in clear plastic wrapping. I added a copy of Drake’s 2009 classic So FarGone to celebrate his current tour and I recall the title of the two afore mentioned rappers 2011 tour, “Club Paradise”.
On Friday, June 8, 2018, I made my way to Camden, New Jersey.
This hidden gem of a location is still squarely located in New Jersey but the proximity to Pennsylvania and the next city over sets the tone for a new perspective on TDE. I went to the Adventure Aquarium and drove past, like, at least 4 sushi restaurants. It’s worth noting the unusual amount of Japanese restaurants in the local neighboring town of Cherry Hill. I thought about going into PJ Whelihan’s for what looked like a poppin’ post-show scene. The bar was buzzin’ with, appropriate as ever, various sports games on a bunch of televisions sets. There was outside seating available and I noticed a tray of delicious looking French-fry’s with an accompanying glass salt shaker. Class.
Alas, the BB&T Pavilion was the culmination of my trip. The crowd was diverse. Tucked away amidst a seaside backdrop, was the arena. Built in 1995, and touted as a “water-front entertainment complex”, The BB&T Pavilion boasted a 25, 488 capacity as boats passed by and I never saw a bluer sky. It was like the first time I saw clouds. Chalk it up to the boardwalk-esque location. Also, worth highlighting are the bridges found in and around Camden. Construction workers are heavily dispersed. Rutgers’s University sits a few blocks away amidst regular chain restaurants like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s. I think I saw a Chipotle.
The show started at 7:30 p.m. with TDE newbie’s like SZA and Isaiah Rashad opening up for the four solid artists that round out the modern day bad boys of hip-hop. I entered the show just in time to see Ab-Soul exit. Jay Rock…well, he rocked it! Looking sharp and fit, like he goes to the gym everyday—the seasoned veteran of the group—was impressive. Both poised and charismatic, Rock took the stage for hits like “Hood Gone Love It” and promoted his upcoming album, “Redemption”, which at the time of the June 8th show was slated to release in just 7 days. After about a 30 minute set, Rock rolled off the stage making way for Groovy Q.
Did he grow? Just a little.
Mind you, I saw The TDE Championship tour on 3 separate occasions. The Camden show marked my first time seeing the sports-enthusiasts in years! Although the sports connection makes sense since I’ve witnessed SchoolBoyQ’ on his tour bus watching The UFC as well as being a very vocal San Francisco forty-niners fan. Mr. Lamar has been spotted at a few Laker’s Games and sports his Dodger’s cap around town.
The name of the tour: The TDE Championship Tour brought to mind Nipsey Hussle style crew-necks recalling the night Jay-Z dropped $100 per album he purchased during the Los Angeles native’s ”Crenshaw” album release pop-up shop. The always-gracious OG stopped by and spent $100,000 to show his support for California, something I think fellow hip-hop heads low-key admire about Jay-Z.
Q’s set at Camden was different but he really came back full force at the Burgettstown, PA show held at Key Pavilion on Saturday June 16,2018. During that show, a 6-hour drive from New Jersey, ScHoolboy Q reminded me of that sexy, hard-core, weed enthusiast that I first fell for on songs like,“Hands On The Wheel” and “Michael Jordan”. Even though, I don’t smoke weed, I always end up gravitating towards people who do partake in the pleasure.
Who remembers screamin’ “What this pop-corn about?!” at an early Schoolboy Q.
The night belonged to Kendrick Lamar. Compton’s very own is the king of the TDE family and his genuine involvement speaks to his mature,thoughtful, and business-minded nature but to know he is the leader of the pack is understood through his captivating crowd-control. Visually, he’s grown in leaps and bounds. Athletic looking, like a young baller, he looks like 5 letters: M O N E Y. His hair was laid. His clothes looked like they were from the French rapper spot “Colette” but maybe the exclusive collection. He looked rested, energetic, calm, and just interested.
That’s what comes along with fame and being a champion. Except, Mr. Lamar seems like the type of Champion that wouldn’t mind if you spelled it (spilled it) Champagne.