Kendrick Lamar, SZA and ScHoolboy Q
Austin360 Amphitheater, March 18, 7:30 P.M.
by Neal Baker
Photograph by Tom McCarthy Jr.
Los Angeles record label Top Dawg Entertainment has every right to the confidence it exhibits in embarking on “The Championship Tour.” In recent years its headliners have amassed 38 Grammy nominations, with 11 wins under Kendrick Lamar’s name. The critics agree as well: Lamar and SZA sat comfortably atop just about everyone’s year-end lists in 2017 with their respective albums, “DAMN.” and “Ctrl.” ScHoolboy Q and supporting acts Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, SiR, and Lance Skiiiwalker round out a lineup that’s almost too good to be true. This group of all-stars lands in Austin on May 18 to seize the Austin360 Amphitheater.
But be sure to buy your movie tickets before your concert tickets, because many of the artists appearing at this show were collaborators on the companion album to Marvel’s recent movie “Black Panther,” with Lamar serving as the leading producer on the record. More than a soundtrack, the album takes inspiration from the movie’s characters and the artistic universe they live in, packing superhero excitement into performances ranging from energetic and hard-hitting to woozy and soulful. “Black Panther: The Album” works to compound what it was that already is making the movie special. The cultural message and movement behind it go far beyond cinema. All this considered together with the artists’ own catalogs, everything being brought to the show amounts to a staggering testament to the golden state of West Coast hip-hop.