Kendrick Lamar
Image: Courtesy

Kendrick Lamar hosted a star-studded concert in Los Angeles' Kia Forum on Wednesday, intended as a show of unity for the West Coast rap fraternity.

More than 20 musicians made guest appearances, including Dr Dre, Roddy Ricch, Ty Dolla $ign, Tyler The Creator and Steve Lacy.

But the highlight of the night was the live debut of Lamar's song Not Like Us - an eviscerating take-down of Canadian star Drake, which brought their long-running feud to a decisive end last month.

Encouraged by the crowd, Lamar played the song five times, with each performance more explosive than the last.

"Y’all ain’t gonna let nobody disrespect the West Coast, huh?" he asked, as the set drew to a close.

"Oh y’all ain’t gonna let nobody mock or imitate our legends, huh?", he added, referring to Drake's decision to use AI versions of Tupac and Snoop Dogg's vocals on his song, Taylor Made Freestyle.

Lamar's feud with Drake goes back years, but it escalated to new levels in April in May, as the two rappers traded insults in a flurry of new songs.

Drake, who has become the face of mainstream pop-rap, accused Lamar of selling out and mocked his height, while also levelling more serious allegations of domestic violence (the star has never faced such a claim).

Lamar, one of the most critically-acclaimed lyricists of his generation, called Drake's music "predictable" and suggested he was addicted to gambling and drugs.

But Not Like Us took things a step further.

In the song, Lamar accused Drake of "colonising" Southern rap culture for personal gain and made (unsubstantiated) claims about his conduct with young women, which Drake later denied.

Powered by an irresistible DJ Mustard beat, Not Like Us broke Spotify records, becoming the hip-hop song with the most plays in a single day.

It went on to top the US charts, and reached number six in the UK - making it Lamar's biggest hit as a solo artist.

New lyrics added

The star announced his Junteenth concert just two weeks ago, but it sold out instantly.

Titled The Pop Out: Ken And Friends, it opened with sets by DJ Hed and DJ Mustard, who held a moment in memory of LA rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was murdered five years ago.

Lamar took to the stage shortly before 6:30pm, opening with another Drake diss track, called Euphoria.

The song included a new line, in which Lamar rapped: "Give me Tupac’s ring back and I might give you a little respect."

The lyric referred to a ring, previously owned by the late Tupac Shakur, that was purchased at auction by an anonymous bidder for over $1 million last year. The buyer was later revealed to be Drake.

Lamar went on to play hits including DNA, Alright, Swimming Pools (Drank) and King Kunta.

He was joined during the set by Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock, with whom he formed the hip-hop supergroup Black Hippy, to perform M.A.A.D. City and That Part.

Lamar also performed his verse from the Future and Metro Boomin' song Like That, which ignited this year's war of words.

Towards the end of the show, which was streamed live on Amazon, Lamar brought out West Coast rap legend Dr Dre, acting as his hype-man on raucous versions of Still D.R.E. and California Love.

Dre then teed up the first performance of Not Like Us by whispering the opening line, "I see dead people".

Excitement for the song had been building throughout the night, with the crowd chanting its lyrics at various points in Lamar's set.

With each repeat, Lamar was joined by more and more guests.

By the end of the night, there were almost 30 people on stage, including YG, Steve Lacy, Schoolboy Q, Big Boy, G Perico, DJ Mustard, and basketball stars Russell Westbrook and Demar Derozan.

The gathering marked a rare moment of solidarity from Los Angeles' often fractured hip-hop scene.

Pausing to take a group photo, Lamar told the crowd: "This is unity, y’all just don’t know man".

He dedicated the show to the musicians and friends they had lost to violence, saying: "Everybody on this stage got fallen soldiers.

"For all of us to be together, that [expletive] is special," he continued.

"We put this together with peace... I promise this won’t be the last of us."]

The show ended with a sixth, instrumental, version of Not Like Us, played as fans left the arena.