Kendrick Lamar Honors Henry Taylor With His Performance

Kendrick Lamar, a Musician, Decided to Honor Painter Henry Taylor With His Musical Performance at Lollapalooza.

Aug 8, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Kendrick Lamar
The musician performs in front of a reproduction of Henry Taylor’s 2006 painting Fatty at a recent music festival.


Kendrick Lamar certainly draws people’s attention at his recent performance at Lollapalooza summer festival in Grant Park, Chicago. The performance of the talented musician also has an artistic dimension – it shows the art of the American artist Henry Taylor. But, he somewhat showed it differently than usual. Instead of videos and moving materials, the artist placed pictures of black personalities of different profiles and movements on the canvas.


How Kendrick Lamar’s Performance Came Into Realization

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar performs in front of a reproduction of Henry Taylor’s 2006 painting Fatty at a recent music festival.


The performance includes six photographs, created in the period of 2006 to 2018. “We wanted a kind of show that didn’t depend on LED walls or anything like that. Just backdrops revealing themselves over the course of the show in a lo-fi, theatrical, old-Broadway type of way”, said Mike Carson, the show director and co-designer with Lamar and his longtime collaborator Dave Free.


Carson also added: “When you go to a festival, or a show, there are things you’re always going to see. One thing I love about Kendrick and Dave is that they’re always like, ‘How do we flip that on its head?’ If people at a festival see the same thing for eight hours in a day, and then you come on at 11 p.m., how can you refresh the palate?”. Taylor and Lamar first met at a recording location session a year ago.


woodstock music festival performance large audience 1969
A huge turnout at the Woodstock Music Festival, 1969 via HISTORY


Later, while contemplating how to follow up his complex “Big Steppers Tour” with something simpler and more straightforward, he came up with the idea. Henry likes Kendrick, and the two Los Angelenos have a lot of respect and admiration for one another, according to Carson. They were both quite enthusiastic. Carson created an illustration of what they envisioned with Lamar and Free.

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About the Proccess

The musician performs in front of a reproduction of Henry Taylor’s 2012 painting Sweet at a recent music festival.


Carson also spoke about the art. “Some of the art we printed at 60 feet wide by 34 feet tall, so you see the details of this stuff bigger than ever. On the poly silk, the colors pop, and it’s also light enough to travel with and safe enough that, if it blows like crazy, it doesn’t knock Kendrick off the stage. Lamar first used Taylor’s works at Primevera Sound in Barcelona in June.


More shows will follow into the fall in North America and Asia. Throughout the tour’s run, Carson said, the art of Henry Taylor has been a suitable co-star in Lamar and his incomparable tales told in the form of rap. “Henry’s use of color and the storytelling within his art is impressive, but there’s something about it that feels like homemade and attainable. I think it speaks to the stories of the characters in his art”, Carson said.


fantasy fair magic mountain music fetival 1967
Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, June 1967 via Vanity Fair


“We all see a lot of things that are so polished and overly stylized or overly computer-generated, but I really feel the stories in Henry’s art. As a Black man, I definitely see a lot of my history and a lot of my family’s history—and I’m sure a lot of other people do too”, he added.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.