Rwanda: Who Is Kendrick Lamar, the Hip Hop Legend Performing in Kigali Next Week?

29 November 2023

On November 3, Kendrick Lamar, a celebrated American rapper, was announced as the headliner of Move Afrika: A Global Citizen Experience, meant to establish an international touring circuit in Africa, starting with a concert in Kigali, on December 6.

This will be Lamar's first performance in East Africa, and so far, the biggest rapper to stage and come to Rwanda, following Dreamville's J Cole who was in the country in 2021 for Basketball Africa League (BAL) season one.

The rapper ranks number two on this year's list of top 50 greatest rappers by Billboard, released as part of the platform's salute to this year's golden anniversary of hip-hop, following Jay Z on the list and followed by influential rappers of all time including the likes of B.I.G, 50 Cent, Kanye west, and even Dr Dre who made him a household name in the hip-hop world.

Who is Kendrick Lamar? Background and early Life

The power of Kendrick Lamar's music comes from its deep Compton, Los Angeles roots, where he was born on 17 June, 1987.

His parents had moved to Compton from Chicago to escape the city's gang culture, although Lamar's father had been associated with the notorious Gangster Disciples gang. As the 1980s crack trade and West Coast gang presence increased, Lamar grew up around precarious street activity, but he seemed more influenced than harmed by it. He was a good student who enjoyed writing stories, poems, and then lyrics.

At age 16, in 2003, he circulated a mix tape called Youngest Head Nigga in Charge, which drew a lot of interest in his native Southern California and beyond, before releasing his 2011' first studio album 'Section 80' through Top Dawg Entertainment label.

Meeting Dr Dre and making 'Good Kid, m.A.A.d city'

In 2012, a year later after making Section 80, Lamar signed with Dr. Dre's Interscope imprint Aftermath Entertainment and dropped his second studio album Good Kid, m.A.A.d City, which recently broke the record as the longest charting hip-hop studio album of all time and among 15 longest-charting albums of any genre, with several commercial hits like Swimming Pool (Drank), Backseat Freestyle, and Money Trees among many others

Also read: Who are the performers added on Move Africa line-up

Lamar's appeal to the masses didn't stop with the takeover of his second studio album, he remained popular for his sharp observations of street culture.

"That's the most interesting story to me," he told the British newspaper The Guardian. "At first, I was scared to show fear because you can never be sure how people will perceive you. But I dared myself to do that, to stand out."

Between 2015 and 2017, before he took a break, Lamar dropped some of his greatest influential projects of all times including jazz-influenced 'To Pimp a Butterfly', his first Billboard 200 Number one, 2016's 'Untitled Unmastered', a compilation of tracks that were unfinished demos for To Pimp a Butterfly, and pop-infused DAMN which featured Lamar's first solo Number one single, "HUMBLE,".

DAMN won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music, the first non-jazz or classical work to do so. That year also marked his major foray into film with the Black Panther the Album.

The return of Kendrick Lamar and upcoming Kigali performance

On May 2022, Lamar made a major return in the game with the release of his latest album, "Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers", his first studio album in five years since 2017's 'Damn', now the 17-time Grammy winner, and final TDE album.

Mr. Morale was recently awarded the best rap album and Emmy winner for last year's Super Bowl halftime show, before the rapper got announced as the main headliner of Move Afrika: A Global Citizen Experience, meant to establish an international touring circuit in Africa, starting with a concert next week in Kigali on December 6, at BK Arena.

Move Afrika, according to Global Citizen, is a five-year large-scale effort to pioneer a first-of-its-kind international music tour in Africa, which aims to showcase the best of Africa to the world, while also driving investments in the communities that will be hosting it.

The first show of the tour will take place on December 6, at the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, headlined by Grammy Award winning star Kendrick Lamar, and will also feature other performances by local acts like Bruce Melodie, Ariel Wayz and many others.

A limited number of tickets to the show are available for purchase on

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