All the lyrical skills of the rapper from Compton will be on display Tuesday night when he plays a sold-out Tacoma Dome.
In popular perception, Los Angeles rapper Kendrick Lamar currently holds the distinction of greatest rapper alive.
It’s possible that the idea of greatness is more important in rap than any other genre. Conversations among fans, especially online, pit the genre’s biggest stars against one another in terms of album sales, cultural relevance and lyrical acuity.
Drake has sold more records, and Kanye is (largely by his own volition) more prominent in pop-cultural conversations, but Lamar, who plays the Tacoma Dome on Tuesday (Aug. 1), is a tireless striver who takes an ascetic approach to his craft. He’s also more popular than ever. “DAMN,” the record he’s touring behind, has gone double platinum and is one of the year’s most streamed releases.
Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, D.R.A.M.
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma; $35-$215 (800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com).
It’s fitting that LeBron James, the best basketball player of his generation, is an outspoken fan of an artist who many consider the best rapper of his. But while greatness is relatively easy to measure in sports — points are scored, games are won or lost — it’s less clear in an abstract, subjective form like music.
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Lamar raps like there’s no room for doubt. He can seamlessly switch flows and cadences, embody multiple characters within the same track, and construct detail-rich lyrics that invite scrutiny and analysis. (On lyric-annotation website Genius, he’s the second-most popular artist of all time behind Drake.) At least one prominent website’s review of “DAMN” compared listening to Lamar to watching a masterful athlete go to work.
Though it’s easy to focus on Lamar’s pure virtuosity, he’s also forged an…