By Mikael Wood
6:40 PM EST, January 28, 2013
Did no one tell Kendrick Lamar he was supposed to whiff on "Saturday Night Live"?
Bucking a trend established in recent years by Ashlee Simpson and Lana Del Rey, Lamar made his "SNL" debut over the weekend with a pair of excellent performances that won't help anybody characterize him as the lucky recipient of undue hype. (For the record, Pop & Hiss still ranks Simpson's notorious lip-sync hoedown among the top 10 television performances of all time. But we know the world does not agree.)
In his first at-bat, Lamar offered a cool, collected run-through of "Swimming Pools (Drank)," one of the higher-profile cuts from last year's acclaimed "good kid, m.A.A.d city" album. Then the young Compton rapper turned his seven-piece live band loose for a sweet soul-funk take on "Poetic Justice," complete with sax solo.
We're not as sold on "YOLO," the digital short featuring Lamar, the Lonely Island and Adam Levine, who hosted Saturday's episode. But here again we'll probably end up in the minority: By Monday afternoon the song had already zoomed to No. 29 on the iTunes singles chart.
Watch "Swimming Pools (Drank)," "Poetic Justice" and "YOLO" below.