On Tuesday, Kendrick Lamar released “i”, the first single from his highly-anticipated follow-up to 2012’s excellent good kid, m.A.A.d city. Despite promises of an effort brimming with “aggression and emotion,” the track proved to be a veritable ray of sunshine, with K. Dot espousing the virtues of self-confidence in favor of his usual brooding intensity. Has the Compton native vanquished his personal demons? No, but as an MC in a top position, it’s clear that he’s learned to better control them as a means to inspire others.
Lamar carried over those very same good vibes when he appeared on Power 106’s “Big Boys Neighborhood” later on Tuesday. Rapping over several beats, including Jay Z’s “Who You Wit” and James Brown’s “The Boss”, Lamar spent his five-minute lyrical exhibition smiling and laughing, often seeming surprised with what he managed to come up with. You can also practically see him flipping through his massive mental encyclopedia of words and references to forge the little rhyming couplets.
Lithe and playful, his rhymes ranged from the simple and bragadocious (“Every 16 bars is like ours / And if you want it be about to take charge”) to a bit of life advice (“Sippin’ on that juice and gin/ That’s a classic, coming straight from Dre and Snoop/ If you want us, please jump inside the coupe/ Cause you don’t deserve it if you don’t not”). The man’s known for cutting rhymes and dense emotionality, but it’s a nice change of pace just to see whatever bits of random life and well-deserved boastfulness he lets tumble out.
Watch the freestyle below.
It wasn’t all fun and games, though, as Lamar made time to talk business during an accompanying interview. He revealed that not only did Ron Isley clear the sample of Isley Brothers’ “That Lady” used in “i”, but he also recorded several ad libs for the track. Lamar also revisited his controversial “Control” verse, his relationships with both J. Cole and Drake, more insights into the LP’s emotional arc, and much more. Check out the full 12-minute interview here.