“I love God, I love speed, I love drink, I love me / I love oceans in the deep, I love money, I love me.” God, I love Kendrick too. With a boogie-woogie intro, heavy-hitting drums and a tight band, “Cornrow Kenny,” as he so calls himself, basks in a pale spotlight, rapping about mystical “blue faces.” The rapper never fails to deliver a stunning performance, and the performance on Fallon is no exception — but what makes the performance so spectacular isn’t the theatrics, rather its lack thereof. The reserved rendition of “Untitled 2” (save the explosive ending) relays a subtle, honest and important intimacy that can be thought to define much of the artist’s late work.
While often the mix from late night shows is lacking, Fallon made sure not to disappoint when Kendrick came on — both the band and vocals were appropriately leveled. The Roots, major players in the track, are unafraid to interact with Kendrick as he rapped over their groove. Piano lines float atop the track, playing off Kendrick’s rhythm and dancing over the bar line and through the changing time signatures. The piano adds to the mix an improvisational flare, inherited from jazz, the music from which Kendrick’s recent music is so inspired. However present the band might be, they remain cast in the background, save metallic shimmering from guitars and cymbals. Their submersion in the darkness behind the frontman provides an unsteady atmosphere that brings further tension to the cutting lyrics. Kendrick Lamar, once again, is the complete package.