Kendrick Lamar helps bring FAU’s Freaker’s Ball back

Emily Bloch

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Dressed in black faded jeans held up by a shoelace belt, a grey T-shirt with a graphic snakeskin print, and a black leather cap with the letters NV on the front stood chart-topping hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar.

The winner of SPIN Magazine’s Best Hip-Hop Album of the year for 2012 — who has had six Billboard Hot 100 singles in the last year and 10 Billboard R&B/hip-hop singles — was about to embark on a 24 date college tour.

His first stop? FAU’s Boca campus.

On April 5, in the Barry Kaye auditorium, Lamar started his Verge On Campus Tour. The tour was sponsored by Karmaloop clothing supply and Neff Headwear, who sold gear outside of the Student Union. The tour also featured DJs Bad Rabbits, Five & A Dime, and Steve Aoki, who will appear on later dates.

This concert was Program Board’s resurrection of Freaker’s Ball, its ‘annual’ hip-hop concert that hasn’t happened in three years. The last one featured Ludacris in 2010.

“Last year, a lot of people were disappointed because there was no Freaker’s Ball,” said Program Board Director Lexi Rosario. “But I hope that we made up for it.”

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It’s a rainy Thursday, and Program Board is scrambling to make sure everything is ready for Lamar’s appearance. Two large black tour buses sit behind the Student Union, and a table is set up in his dressing room, complete with Lemon Snapple, orange juice, and Fruity Pebbles.

Last October, when Pepper came to perform for the Owl Prowl Homecoming Concert, South Florida was under a hurricane warning.

Tonight, the streak continued. Except this time, it was with a tornado watch.

It’s 1:25 p.m. and the Showtime Sound Production Company is doing final touches on its sound and light display. The show may be hip-hop, but the lights were pure rock and roll.

Including an LED video screen, two overhead racks of strobe and spotlights, as well as fixed strobe lights and colored filters for them all, the five crew members test the detailed display in synch to pre-recorded music.

As they walk out, one member’s walkie-talkie goes off with the words they’ve been waiting to hear — “Attention, attention,” the walkie-talkie gets staticky for a second. “Kendrick is on the way. He should be there soon.”

Through the thunder, pouring rain, and gray skies, Lamar’s metallic gold tour bus arrives behind the Student Union, this bus being the third to our parking lot’s new collection.

Kendrick is here.

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The clock hits 9:43 p.m. “What the fuck is up, y’all?” yells Lamar. “Y’all ready to party tonight? Threes Up!”

Raising three fingers represents Lamar’s HiiiPower movement, standing for heart, honor, and respect.

Students scream for the rapper as he opens up his set with “Westside, Right on Time.” They pile into the aisles of the auditorium as security desperately tries to turn them away.

“First rule: put one hand up,” says Lamar. “Second rule: follow. I’ll lead.” Lamar performs his song “P&P” and transitions into “Fuckin’ Problem.” The crowd responds immediately to the song, which was named No. 21 of the “50 best songs of 2012” by Complex Music and has also peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Rap Songs chart.

Though Lamar performs in Florida frequently — he headlined last year’s Black Friday Festival at Boca’s Sunset Cove Amphitheater — this was his first time performing at FAU.

“This is history in the making,” says Lamar. “And y’all are a part of it.” PULLOUT

The rapper performed “A.D.H.D.” with his confident rasp making fans scream and cheer. “This will be the loudest motherfucking show right now,” says Lamar.

As a disco ball spins and students dance in their aisles, some girls stand on their chairs, only to be asked down by security, then get up once again, after the guards turned their backs.

One girl especially, in a black and white horizontal striped mini dress, got called out.

“You in the striped dress,” hollered Lamar. “What’s your name?” Heads from all angles turned to stare at the girl. “Daija?” asked Lamar. “You got a boyfriend, Daija?”

The girl shook her head no, but Lamar prompted the audience. “Do she got a boyfriend or no?”

As the audience cheered, Lamar continued. “They telling me you lying, so you got a new name.”

The rapper laughs and leads into his next number, “Tammy’s Song.” “Everybody say bye Daija,” Lamar says to the audience. “Everybody say hi Tammy.”

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With the concert winding down, Lamar grins at the crowd of about 2,400 screaming FAU students, and tells them he will always come back and perform again.

Too bad he named the wrong college — twice.

“Goodnight, FSU,” says Lamar after performing his song “Cartoons & Cereal.” He also drops the Florida State Noles’ name in the middle of his set as he tries to get the crowd excited.

The rapper performs his hits like “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Poetic Justice” to the packed auditorium as the audience waved their hands in the air and danced along.

Lamar strides off the stage as the passionate crowd chants over and over, “F-A-U, F-A-U!”

The rapper returns to the stage for his encore with the lights blacked out dramatically. He proceeds to freestyle with only one spotlight shining on him, talking about being brought up in Compton, Calif., how he considers himself a king, and how “you can’t control greatness.”

Lamar stands proudly on stage next to FAU mascot Owlsley, who wears oversized sunglasses and a grey FAU FOR LIFE T-shirt. (That’s right — F-A-U). The hip-hop artist calls the mascot his “homeboy.”

“I told you it’s the best school,” says Lamar. “Can you let me know where I’m at?” In response, the crowd erupts into an F-A-U chant, prompting Lamar to raise his own set of owl fingers.

“I’ll always come back to this school,” says Lamar.

If you hit the State Capitol Building, Kendrick, you’ve gone too far.