Single Review: Kendrick Lamar releases addictive 'i'

Aftermath/Interscope

By Amelia Zak, Daily Arts Writer
Published September 24, 2014

“I love myself!”
Yes, you should, Kendrick. We do too.

"i"


A
Kendrick Lamar
Aftermath/Interscope Records


Kendrick Lamar’s first single off his forthcoming album hit the airwaves earlier this week, titled “i.” It’s the first new music we’ve heard from the celebrated artist since his 2012 breakthrough record, good Kid, m.A.A.d City.

The track pulls a sample from the Isley Brother’s 1973 soul hit, “That Lady,” giving the song a funky undertone as Lamar’s raspy voice raps over it. The new single was first alluded to in mid-September when Lamar released the track’s cover art, detailing two men dressed like a Blood and a Crip with their hands in the shape of hearts rather than their respective gang symbols. The artwork implies the song’s message of peace and unity, and with lyrics as inspiring as ever, Lamar speaks honestly about the impoverished world of his childhood. By offering up his personal experiences in his lyrics, Kendrick Lamar performs a sort of activism that can offer hopefulness to others in the face of similar adversity. The song’s constant remains in the uplifting chorus, a repeating and sometimes interrupted “I love myself.” Building in intensity but maintaining a consistently funky jazz bass, the song is a four-minute reminder that Kendrick can be missed but never forgotten.

Still remaining somewhat individualized in an industry built for sonic homogeneity, “i” is a strong reminder of what makes Kendrick Lamar’s music so addictive and interesting: he gives you the sounds you want to hear without sacrificing his intended message or artistic desires. So while this 27-year-old hit-machine diligently puts the final touches on his forthcoming album, the world will have to just sit back and bob their heads quietly as they chant: “I love myself.”