When my roommate (who is the biggest hip-hop head I know) asked me what I thought of Kendrick Lamar’s jarringly upbeat new single ‘i’, I foolishly let slip how much I liked it. For the next few minutes he stood before me with the most disgusted look on his face as I nervously spluttered out a series of nonsensical arguments that cited my respect for the man’s “creative approach to the rap song structure” and compared ‘i’ to songs like Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’ – a move that would only dig myself into a deeper hole.
A few days and a fantastic Fader article later, I realised (thanks to superior communicator Aimee Cliff), what I really meant to say was that Kendrick was “genetically modifying a subversive tale of self-love in the face of societal marginalisation, physical/emotional trauma and depression” to reach as wide an audience as possible.
Now that I watch the video though, I’m beginning to think that my biggest mistake was attempting to overanalyse a song that’s best understood through its ability to pick a listener up when they’re feeling down, however intelligent they may be.
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