He’s back. On September 23, Kendrick Lamar released the first single, a song named “i,” from his highly anticipated new album. This is the first song Lamar has put out in years. His last release was his second album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, which became an instant classic. This new song, however, marks a sharp departure from Lamar’s previous work. good kid, m.A.A.d city featured more ominous and enveloping beats underneath Lamar’s fevered words and stories of his hometown of Compton, where as “i” is much more upbeat and even a little bit funky, with a refrain where Lamar declares “I love myself.”
“i” is delivered on top of a sample from the Isley Brother’s “That Lady.” The light piano and bass drive the beat for the first two thirds of the song, and then there’s a break from the tempo. The song slows down and the bass takes over. Lamar brings his voice up to a low shout underneath a little bit of distortion. This breakdown is reminiscent of his recent collaboration with Flying Lotus, “Never Catch Me,” which also came out in the last couple of weeks.
When I first heard “i,” I was a little taken aback. I was not used to hearing Lamar so upbeat after hearing songs like “The Art of Peer Pressure” and “m.A.A.d city.” Local Kendrick Lamar connoisseur Ben Steinlauf ’15 called it “the first single of a new era of rap,” and other reactions are generally positive.
I, for one, am extremely excited to see what else Lamar has planned for us.