Kendrick Lamar finally made his headlining debut at the 2022 Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England on June 26, two years after he was initially slated to perform—his original appearance postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Compton native’s return to the stage on the final day of the festival was a monumental one, even aside from the delay: it was Lamar’s first big concert since releasing his latest album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. And the Pulitzer Prize-winning artist accessorized for the occasion.
Onstage, Lamar wore the very same diamond-encrusted crown of thorns he donned on the cover of Mr. Morale. The headpiece, made of titanium and diamonds, was custom designed by the artist, his creative collaborator Dave Free, and Tiffany & Co. Boasting 50 thorns, the crown took ten months and over 1,300 hours of work as four artisans set 8,000 cobblestone micro pavé diamonds (a whopping 137 carats in total) into the metal by hand.
Glastonbury wasn’t the first time Lamar wore his diamond-encrusted piece during a live performance, either: the rapper put it on for his appearance at Louis Vuitton’s menswear show in Paris on June 23, when he rapped the refrain “Long live Virgil” over the beat to “N95.”
This time around, though, the crown was integrated into his performance—which was, as the Guardian’s review put it, “amazing,” “stunning,” and “tightly choreographed.” Two groups of dancers—one comprised only of men; the other, all women—circled him on stage while he performed hits from his entire catalog: “Money Trees” off Good Kid MAAD City, To Pimp a Butterfly’s “King Kunta,” and a selection from DAMN in addition to the lead singles from Mr. Morale.
But it was during the finale, which saw Lamar performing his new song “Savior,” (his “favorite record” off Mr. Morale he told the audience), when the artist impressed upon the crowd his central messaging for the performance.
“I don’t care for no public speaking,” he rapped, spitting the last lines of the track as fake blood trickled down his face and stained his white button-down shirt. “They like to wonder where I’ve been—protecting my soul in the valley of silence.”
But when the song ended, Lamar kept rapping a cappella, repeating the phrase “I wear this crown. They judge you, they judged Christ, godspeed for women’s rights,” as though it were his mantra on loop. His nod to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24th which lifted federal protection for abortion in the United States, felt fitting alongside the Mr. Morale song. The album, after all, contemplates how women have been done wrong by powerful men time and time again throughout history—and in modern days, as well.