Kendrick Lamar Brings Compton To Tupac’s ‘California Love’: Watch

Before performing for the live broadcast of the 2014 iHeartRadio Awards Thursday (May 1) night, Kendrick Lamar took a trip down memory lane to the day he and his father witnessed the music video shoot for Tupac’s “California Love” near the Compton Swap Meet.

K.Dot remembered fondly how the whole experience inspired his 8-year-old self to become the lyrical assassin he is today. So when he took the stage dress in a black bomber jacket, white tee and jeans at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, he paid homage to that memory by reciting the rap legend’s verse from the Dr. Dre-produced classic.

Backed by a four-piece live band on a stage with kaleidoscope lighting, the TDE respresenter dove headfirst into Pac’s quotable lines, all the while engaging the throng of hip-hop fans hanging onto every syllable.

“I need everybody to put one hand up right now,” Kendrick said, imploring the sold-out crowd to wave.

To close out his brief set, Kendrick then segued into “m.A.A.d. City,” from his seminal debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, punctuating each lyric with a flourish as the audience rapped along to the beat. Even Rihanna, who took home several awards throughout the night, was spotted in the crowd nodding her head and mouthing the words.

The iHeartRadio Awards was NBC’s first major music awards show. It aired live on the network and 150 radio stations across the country. Over 60 million fans voted for the winners, which included Miley Cyrus, who took home the Best Lyrics trophy for “Wrecking Ball” via her father Billy Ray Cyrus.