Kendrick Lamar's major-label debut, the cinematic good kid, m.A.A.d. city, from 2012, traced one inner-city character's struggle to avoid ending up a cautionary tale. It's a divide that surfaced most cleanly on "Good Kid," where the rapper contrasted the influence of one set of neighborhood reds and blues (the Bloods and the Crips) with another (the flashing lights on a police cruiser), suggesting the limited range of outcomes available to his protagonist.

Kendrick Lamar's major-label debut, the cinematic good kid, m.A.A.d. city, from 2012, traced one inner-city character's struggle to avoid ending up a cautionary tale. It's a divide that surfaced most cleanly on "Good Kid," where the rapper contrasted the influence of one set of neighborhood reds and blues (the Bloods and the Crips) with another (the flashing lights on a police cruiser), suggesting the limited range of outcomes available to his protagonist.

With the brainy, brazen To Pimp a Butterfly, released earlier this year, the Compton-born Lamar, who headlines a concert at the LC Pavilion outdoors on Saturday, Oct. 24, adopts a wider view, exploring a nation beset by racial strife (the ghosts of Eric Garner and Mike Brown haunt tracks like "The Blacker the Berry") and the personal toll these conflicts can enact.

The record is dense and challenging, heavy on knotty verses rather than radio-friendly choruses, making the MC something of an outlier as he gears up for a fall/winter stadium tour - venues normally reserved for more easily digested fare. This will mark Lamar's first visit to Columbus since a headlining turn at the Breakaway Festival in 2013, and is part of a smaller round of warmup shows focused on comparatively intimate venues. Don't miss it.