Brow Beat

Watch Kendrick Lamar Light the Stage on Fire as Colbert’s First Late Show Musical Guest 

Shortly before Stephen Colbert bid goodbye to The Colbert Report at the end of last year, Kendrick Lamar appeared as a musical guest with a brand new, untitled song. It was a blistering, jazz-infused performance, one that hinted at the musical stylings of the ambitious, eclectic album Lamar would drop just a few months later, To Pimp a Butterfly. According to collaborator Terrace Martin, the rapper wrote the song the day before he appeared on the show, never recorded it in the studio, and will never release it.

Considering how special that performance was—and how big To Pimp a Butterfly has become since—it comes as no real surprise that Lamar was Colbert’s first musical guest after his move to the Late Show. As usual, Lamar’s lyrical dexterity and show-stopping delivery were on display, as he went through a medley of songs from the album—“Wesley’s Theory,” “Momma,” “King Kunta,” and “u”—the last of which featured an all-new coda with new lyrics.