When Kendrick Lamar took the stage at Glastonbury last night, the American rapper had no intention of putting on a less than unforgettable show for his debut performance at the iconic British festival. And so he did, not only with a passionate delivery of lyrics that were punched up with poignant political messaging but with his infamous crown of thorns that was designed by Tiffany & Co exclusively for the rapper.
Featuring 50 thorns, 8000 cobblestone micro-pavé diamonds totalling 137 carats in total were set into the metal by hand by four separate artisans. A labour of love and imagination that according to Tiffany & Co representatives took ten months and more than 1300 hours of work to complete. Lamar, and his longtime collaborator David Free, first contacted Tiffany & Co about working together back in 2021 and the artists were inspired by Jean Schlumberger’s iconic Thorns brooch that was created in 1947 prior to joining Tiffany & Co. in 1956.
The custom-made crown first appeared on the cover of his latest and fifth studio album, Mr Morale & The Big Steppers and has since become a motif for the new phase in the Pulitzer Prize winning artist. While Glastonbury wasn’t the first time that Lamar has worn his crown in public – the Compton native wore it during his front row performance at the recent Louis Vuitton Spring Summer 2023 Men’s Show – it was the first time it became a significant, and interactive, part of Lamar’s message.
Perhaps one of the most poignant symbols of Western culture, it’s a daring design to take on board lightly due to its political, cultural and religious significance. During a biting delivery of his track Saviour from the new album, fake blood began dripping down the artist’s face from beneath the crown, spilling onto his white shirt. At the end of the song, Lamar repeated the same line again and again: “I wear this crown. They judge you, they judged Christ, godspeed for women’s rights.”
An overarching theme found in Mr Morale & The Big Steppers has been the mistreatment of women by powerful men and the performance, in light of the recent decision from SCOTUS to overturn Roe vs Wade and effectively ban abortion, was a fitting reminder that this is still happening.