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Kendrick Lamar References Roe v. Wade Overturning During Glastonbury Set

Rapper Kendrick Lamar headlined Glastonbury on Sunday night, the last day of the festival. His set ended with a powerful protest at the recent roll-back of abortion rights in the US with the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.


The final song in the setlist was ‘Saviour’, a song that examines Covid 19 conspiracies, the Black Lives Matter movement, political correctness and his flaws. These are all juxtaposed with his own Christianity and his faith in Jesus Christ. With blood pouring down his face from a crown of thorns, the Grammy-winning artist finished the song by proclaiming: "They judge you, they judge Christ. Godspeed for women's rights."


He repeated the phrase over and over with increasing intensity and increasing volume, eventually breaking off mid-sentence and throwing his microphone to the ground before walking off stage as his dancers, dressed in red and white, remained poised in their positions. By the time he walked off, his white shirt was stained red down the front and the blood from his Tiffany and Co. crown, the same one he wore on the cover of his newest album Mr Morale and the Big Steppers, dripped down his eyelashes.


Designed over 10 months, the headpiece features 8,000 cobblestone micro pavé diamonds totalling more than 137 carats and has 50 horns protruding from it. It required more than 1,300 hours of work by four craftsmen to handset the diamonds. The closing lyrics, "Godspeed women's rights", were added to the song for Sunday night's performance; which came two days after the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion. 


Throughout the show, Lamar addressed themes of guilt, greed, loyalty, power, ambition, racism and prejudice in songs from his latest album. His albums have always been incredibly cinematic, filled with many characters and viewpoints through which he discusses profound themes. Lamar is the first and only rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize for music, given to him for his writing skills in the 2017 album Damn. The Pulitzer Prize administration described it as “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life”.


His latest album, his fifth studio album of his career, has gained similarly rave reviews as the album seems Lamar deals with traumatic events in his life and his mental demons. Music reviewing site Pitchfork said: “Kendrick retreats from the limelight and turns to himself, highlighting his insecurities and beliefs”. Rolling Stone gave the album 4.5 stars, saying that the album “takes on an ambitious concept, guiding us through Kendrick’s psyche [...]. The ever jazz-influenced artist is diligent in the sonic progression through his subconscious. The album finds a space between Donda 2-style hurriedness and intentional dissonance. Most songs are cut into one, or three, different beats, giving individual songs the kind of narrative texture you’d expect from a full album”. 


His performance of ‘Saviour’ was a powerful end to a theatrical, dark and profound set that was unlike anything Glastonbury has witnessed before. The blend of emotional depth with high energy and the incredibly visual show is a combination that Lamar perfected for Glastonbury and this will surely be the performance of the festival that is still talked about for weeks to come. You can watch his performance of ‘Saviour’ here.

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