Kendrick Lamar performs at the Greensboro Coliseum

by Ryan Snyder

Kendrick Lamar’s Tuesday night stop at the Greensboro Coliseum didn’t possess the kind of indefinable swagger of his Wake Forest show last month — constantly being on the precipice of being overrun by a rowdy, drunken throng has that effect — but it was instead defined by the perspicuous nature of Lamar himself. He is the Willie Nelson of hip hop; he’ll share a spliff with you as quickly as he’ll share his backstory — how he came to be, where he’s going and how he’s getting there. Along the way, he doesn’t dare trivialize the feelings of inadequacy and grandiosity that have concurrently defined his experience breaking out of Compton and into one of the most beloved names in hip hop right now.

And like Willie with his outlaw brethren, he doesn’t mind sharing the stage. Lamar introduced a hooded J. Cole midway through his set as the two performed “Power Trip,” the lead single from the Fayetteville rapper’s sophomore album Born Sinner, pulling the unenvious task of miming Miguel’s chorus while carrying a verse of his own. It’s not an unprecedented occasion, however. Cole joined Lamar late last year at a Charlotte performance, the string of guest spots a perfect run-up to Lamar’s inevitable appearance on Cole’s forthcoming album.