Kendrick Lamar recently dropped a new single “i” off of his heavily anticipated sophomore album. It was a surprise for many fans, to say the least. Produced by Grammy-nominated, Los Angeles beat-maker Rahki, it features a band-jam sample of “That Lady” by the Isley Brothers. “I” generated mixed reviews from fans. Some proclaim Kendrick’s successfully “broken the mold” and made a great song that actually uplifts “hip-hip.” Others say it “sounds like Carlos Santana low-key produced ‘i’” and pleaded for a grittier follow up single. Kendrick may just grant their wish. In a recent interview Lamar said to expect “aggression and emotion” from the album, as well as some straight free-styling. “There’s one particular track I’m really excited about… It’s one where I just went in the booth and spilled out what I want to say at that moment. I just free-styled, because I really just wanted to grab the raw emotion of it.”
It’s hard to tell after only one single, but it looks like Kendrick’s chosen to experiment a bit on this album. It has no cameos or features from other rappers yet, admitting “I have so much to say!” even though “It’s somewhat selfish.”
Meanwhile, he’s probably acutely aware that the new music has potential to provoke both mixed reviews and curiosity from listeners. It’s easy to polarize fans, and in the Internet era, they’re more capricious than ever. In an interview with Rikki Martini from on LA’s Power 106 radio station, Lamar has said “your own listeners, they can hold you stagnant to where you’re only put in this box of making only this type of music.” It appears he’s making a pointed statement on the mixed reactions to “i,” saying music is “expression, and no matter how it comes across as long as it’s always remaining you, that’s how they goin’ to respect it… Comments’ll kill an artist. I know artists that actually hurt and can’t sleep at night cause they read them all day.” If Kendrick was telling the truth when he told Martini “I got 7 songs I like and maybe 30 I don’t,” it sounds like he’s his own worst critic, and has the right in idea in tuning out everyone else’s comments.
Opinions aside, we may end up waiting even longer than expected for the good kid, m.A.A.d. city follow-up. In this interview with Rolling Stone Kendrick’s mentioned that he’s “not sure at all” that the album will come out in 2014. Earlier this month, Lamar also dealt with accusations of plagiarism on popular track “Rigamortus,” which you can read more about here on FDRMX.