Kendrick Lamar highlights ACL Season 41

Austin City Limits is proud to present a season highlight, a highly-anticipated hour with rap superstar Kendrick Lamar. ACL has featured some of the most iconic performers in music for over four decades, and the legendary PBS series continues it run by showcasing this game-changing artist, widely-acclaimed as one of the greatest rappers of his generation. Already a two-time 2015 Grammy Award-winner, Lamar recently scored a staggering 11 Grammy nominations, leading the pack as 2016’s most-nominated act. In his hour-long ACL debut, Lamar performs tracks from his landmark 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly, Grammy-nominated for top honors including Album of the Year and Best Rap Album.    

The Compton, California native’s sophomore effort To Pimp A Butterfly is the year’s most critically acclaimed record, topping year-end best lists across the globe. The album debuted at No. 1, firmly establishing Lamar as one of the biggest hip-hop artists in the world. The New York Times hailed the work as a “magnum opus,” noting it “an album-length immersion in all the choices and contradictions facing a rapper with a conscience. Race, poverty, fame, lust, cultural heritage, the direction of America and the trajectory of his career are all on his mind.”

Backed by the tight five-piece band The Wesley Theory for his ACL debut, the 28-year old emcee invites the audience “into the magical world of ‘To Pimp A Butterfly,’” opening the intimate, riveting hour with the spoken word piece “For Free?” Lamar delivers an epic 13-song career-spanning set, deftly blending hip-hop, jazz, soul and funk, owning the stage and showcasing the whip-smart lyrical skills that have established him as a generational spokesman.  He brilliantly weaves together tracks from his 2012 breakthrough, the platinum-selling good kid/m.A.A.d. city, performing with a rawness and urgency while touching on universal, life-affirming themes for one of the most memorable performances on the ACL stage. The emotional, exhilarating hour comes to a moving close with the anthem “Alright,” a Grammy nominee for Song of the Year, with the entire Austin crowd breaking into the chant “We gon’ be alright!”

photo by Scott Newton

To Pimp A Butterfly is the most important album of 2015, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to disagree,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Beyond making a powerful statement about the America we live in today, it’s a radical reinvention of modern hip-hop fused with improv jazz and classic R&B. This is the only full-length television performance of a contemporary masterpiece – it deserves to be seen and heard.”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for another new episode, featuring a special acoustic set from Ryan Adams and the ACL debut of Austin favorite Shakey Graves.