Kendrick must be on cloud nine after the massive success of his first LP good kid, m.A.A.d. city. With stiff competition on the rap scene, a break-through into the industry is hard these days, but Kendrick’s silky lyrics and flows spoke for themselves. And it’s with this that we see Kendrick release i; a track much more upbeat in melody than usual and proving that the kid can have a bit of fun with the reputation he’s built up over the years.
It kicks in with a muffled radio voice declaring ‘he’s not a rapper, he’s a writer’ before cutting into summer guitar strings and Santana style licks courtesy of sampling from the Isley brothers. The funky sound comes together nicely with Lamar on top form, drawing on a more positive tone which sits steady next to his vocals.
i is all about love, its intricacies, and different forms. The rapper adopts the role of all seeing messiah as he spouts his inner thoughts about the subject through relationships, family and himself. It’s not all about the pure kind of love as you’d imagine, with Lamar, for example, cleverly working in obsession with money playing a part: ‘you love bank slip that tell you we paid more’.
But it’s not just the lyrics that work; the music plays an important step in moving on Lamar’s sound from earlier work, and shows he’s a rapper willing to progress and experiment. The 70’s sound brings in a nice breakdown near the end, culminating with what almost sounds like a high-tempo chillout track and a rarely heard bass outro. It’s the little things like this that make i stand out.
This is definitely a step forward for Kendrick and the rapper should be commended for it. Changing your game and still managing to stay on top is the hardest thing to do in music, but if i is anything to go by, Lamar will be around for a long time.