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Why is Kendrick Lamar performing only one new song from To Pimp A Butterfly?

The Compton MC has a curious approach to supporting his new masterpiece

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    Photo by Eric Tra

    Kendrick Lamar is author of what is arguably the year’s best album in To Pimp A Butterfly. Normally an artist will bask in the glory of such accolades, but based on recent live performances, it almost seems as if the Compton MC is intentionally shying away from his opus.

    At Sasquatch! last weekend and again at Sweetlife Festival this weekend, Kendrick performed only one song from To Pimp A Butterfly in the form of “Alright”. The rest of the setlist consisted of material from his prior two albums, Secton.80 and good kid, m.A.A.d city, with songs like “Money Trees”, “Backstreet Freestyle”, and “Bitch, Don’t Kill my Vibe”.

    In fact, as several users on Reddit have pointed out, if Kendrick uses the same setlist at Bonnaroo next weekend that he did at Sweetlife, he’ll literally be doing the same 11 songs that he did at Bonnaroo 2013, with the lone exceptions being “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” and “Alright”.

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    So why is Kendrick not playing songs from his new album? He’s never been the sort of artist to troll fans. He also previously mentioned a desire to embark on a full tour of the album. It’s hard to conceive that Kendrick is ill prepared to perform the songs live. He is, however, a noted perfectionist, so perhaps he’s not yet comfortable. Then again, he’s had several months to get ready. As Stereogum notes, the complexity of the songs shouldn’t matter either, as most rappers perform with backing tracks. Anyone have any other guesses?

    Kendrick will return to the stage next week for NYC’s Hot 97 Summer Jam before heading south to Manchester for Bonnaroo.

    Sweetlife Festival Setlist:
    Money Trees
    Backseat Freestyle
    m.A.A.d city (Part 2)
    The Art of Peer Pressure
    Swimming Pools (Drank)
    Fuckin’ Problems
    Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe
    Poetic Justice
    m.A.A.d city (Part 1)
    Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst
    Alright
    A.D.H.D

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    Bonnaroo 2013 Setlist:
    The Art of Peer Pressure
    Backseat Freestyle
    P&P
    Fuckin’ Problems
    R.I.P. (Remix)
    Money Trees
    Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe
    Poetic Justice
    The Recipe
    (intro of Real)
    A.D.H.D
    m.A.A.d city
    Swimming Pools (Drank)

    Watch Kendrick perform “Alright” at Sweetlife Festival.

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