Kendrick Lamar keeps living up to his “Control” boasts. The good kid, m.A.A.d city rapper towered over the 2014 Grammys, both for his bruising performance alongside Imagine Dragons and his Macklemore-acknowledged awards snub. After the ceremony, Imagine Dragons released a remix of their hit “Radioactive” featuring Lamar’s room-torching guitar solo of a rap verse. When the Las Vegas, Nevada-based band performed as the musical guests on Saturday Night Live this past Super Bowl weekend, Lamar turned up to reprise his role. And how.
“Radioactive” still wears that overly serious post-Muse apocalypticism, but damn if the Compton MC’s machine-gun, hood-shaking verse didn’t once again make the whole thing electrifying. One way for Lamar to beat his perceived competition in rap is to rise above insular, intra-genre conflicts. By repeatedly breathing fire over such a hugely popular rock song — on a couple of music’s biggest televised stages — he has done just that.