Saturday night, very good rapper Kendrick Lamar headlined the Sweetlife Festival, a two-day event that's ostensibly about finding harmony in the marriage of music and leafy greens. The festival is sponsored by Sweetgreen, a high-brow salad chain that recently debuted its delightfully named Beets Don't Kale My Vibe salad, a buoyantly quirky take on a Kendrick Lamar song remixed in vegetable form.
You kind of can't help but feel bad for him
Anyway, Sweetgreen's co-founder Jonathan Neman, or Jonny Nemo, as he's known in some circles, was in the Sweetlife audience this weekend, and at one point Lamar decided to share the spotlight with him. In the middle of his set, Lamar brings Neman onstage to rap his 2012 track "m.A.A.d City" (it happens around the video's 2:45 mark). I think you can probably guess that this doesn't go well. Lamar starts rapping, and then Neman kind of hops around and burps out a few random noises. It only takes about 10 seconds for Lamar to give up and kick Neman off stage. He's actually escorted off, as if this whole fiasco has gone so poorly Neman might now actually be dangerous.
In all fairness to Neman, I'm not entirely sure what Kendrick thought was going to happen. "m.A.A.d City" is a dark, violently aggressive track laced with a fast, unwieldy beat. When Lamar raps the song, his flow is pained and stretched, practically tangled up in itself. Neman is just a guy who had a dream about salads, a guy who turned that dream into several salad stores with long lines and pretty good lighting, a guy who wanted to use his big salad money to have a salad music show. This whole thing is a powerful reminder that even if you follow your dreams, there will still be times when that gut-wrenching, knee-buckling flush of embarrassment will come knock you on your face.