The parking lot of the Compton Best Buy is 131 miles from the Empire Polo Club in Indio. Perhaps it’s much farther in the minds of many South L.A. hip-hop fans, at least for those who wished they could have seen their hometown hero Kendrick Lamar headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last weekend or this one.
But in a surprise announcement Thursday morning, Lamar told his closest fans that he was coming home.
The rapper released a new album, “Damn,” last week. Its songs’ mix of political fury, portraits of trauma and resolve in black life, as well as Lamar’s own complex introspection, was the centerpiece of his Sunday performance at Coachella.
But it also totally bangs, and for the expected 3,000 fans lined up around the mega-store to meet Lamar, it was the soundtrack to a homecoming from the most significant L.A. rap artist to emerge since the ’90s. Billboard is predicting “Damn” to debut at No. 1 with sales topping a half a million.
“I like [the album] a lot so far,” said Dee Hobson, a 22-year-old from Pomona. “It means a lot that he’s telling the truth about 400 years of black people being looked down upon. Those that glamorize it don’t understand it, but people from the ’hood can relate. Hopefully [the record] can open minds and help people do better.”