In May, Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar reintroduced themselves as “The Hillbillies,” a quirky pair of big flexers (“One-hundred and fifty grams of protein,” Dot raps in the duo’s eponymous single) and even bigger spenders who show off their lavish lifestyles and Lamar’s embossed python square toe 3-inch heel cowboy boots in “The Hillbillies” music video. But the opening shot at L.A.’s Dodger Stadium and goofy cameo from Tyler, the Creator — who confirmed Camp Flog Gnaw would officially return this year for the first time since the pandemic at the end of the clip — foreshadowed Saturday night (Nov. 11), where Lamar and Keem took over Flog Gnaw night one’s headliner slot hillbilly style, of course.
But Keem started off the evening with a surprise: He debuted the trailer for The Melodic Blue short film, starring him, Amandla Stenberg, Shakira Ja’Nai Paye and more, that will premiere Dec. 5 on Amazon Prime Video. But the lead actor let “Savior – Interlude” play out like a movie’s beginning credits while sitting on the hood of an old-school black car, Lamar lounging in the front seat before shooting the s— with his baby cousin in the black-and-white video that was projected on the stage’s middle screen.
After Lamar officially introduced himself as “the OG Hillbilly” in a Beverly Hillbillies-inspired accent, the bombastic beginning horns of “Family Ties” activated the audience, with fans shaking off any exhaustion they’d sustained throughout the day. Despite the contradictory opulence of his hillbilly aesthetic, Lamar opted for a vintage brown sports jacket, white jersey, ripped jeans and Timberland boots with small square-frame glasses. He’s already claimed the rap throne a long time ago — and he’s certainly looked the part before, from sitting on an actual throne in his 2015to wearing a crown of [Tiffany & Co. diamond-encrusted] thorns at 2022 Glastonbury Festival. But his current attire represented humble beginnings that can get flipped on their head.
But no amount of money in the world could buy the happiness experienced during the family reunion, which even projected the “Family Ties” cover art — an old photo of Lamar, Keem and their unidentifiable relatives — onto the Camp Stage. Yet during Saturday night’s performance, the passionate festival-goers found themselves in the picture instead. Lamar spoke to his younger fans, some of whom he estimated were 9 or 10-years-old when they first discovered him, and guided them through his biggest hits from his 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city, his 2017 album DAMN. and all the essentials in between. If his music raised these kids, then Lamar’s family was far more extensive than any photo could ever show.
But his relationship with Keem is different because it’s inside their DNA. With everyone flinging their arms in the air with reckless abandon, Lamar’s rousing performance of “Alright” was more than just a tough act to follow — the set could’ve very finished right then and there. But in between songs, he pleaded with his cousin (whom he endearingly referred to as “nephew” earlier) to save him from the “s—” music that’s being put out lately. Keem stepped up to the plate and offered a smorgasbord of his own hits, including his 2019 sleeper hit “Orange Soda,” his TikTok-fueled cut “Lost Souls” from his 2021 debut album, The Melodic Blue, and his stirring feature on Kanye West‘s “Praise God” from Donda.
And what better way to finish off their performance than with the live debut of “The Hillbillies” — which earned a 2024 Grammy nomination for best rap performance just the day before the festival — and having Tyler run back his music video cameo. Shuffling across the stage, the festival’s chief curator felt like The Hillbillies’ long-lost cousin, his eccentric mannerisms being on par with those of Lamar and Keem’s as the trio entertained the audience with their shenanigans. Watching two rap titans and one incredibly promising rising star run around the stage felt like watching three kids run around the neighborhood playground. Flog Gnaw is Tyler’s personal playground after all, where imagination is limitless. Fans might’ve usually referred to Keem as “Two-Phone Baby Keem” and Lamar as “Dot,” “Oklama” or any one of his other notorious nicknames, but for that night, they were The Hillbillies.
Check out the full set list for The Hillbillies’ Camp Flog Gnaw headlining set below:
1. “Savior – Interlude”
2. “Family Ties”
9. “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
10. “Trademark USA”
11. “Lost Souls”
12. “m.A.A.d city”
13. “Praise God”
15. “Orange Soda”
17. “Range Brothers”
18. “Backseat Freestyle”
19. “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
20. “Money Trees”
24. “The Hillbillies”