Kendrick Lamar Just Released His First Single in Two Years, and It's Incredible

Kendrick Lamar dropped a new single Tuesday morning, and it's more soulful than anything we've heard from the Good Kid, M.A.A.D City artist. 

The track, called "i," is a groovy, soul-infused self-love anthem. It's trademark Lamar — expressions of self-love and faith in face of a harsh city life: "I've been through a whole lot / Trials and tribulations but I know God / Satan want to put me in a bow tie / Pray that the holy water don't go dry."  

Source: Soundcloud

The single samples "The Lady" by the Isley Brothers, which as MTV points out was previously sampled by the Beastie Boys on "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" and Charles Hamilton on "The Awkward Prequel." (It also made an appearance in 2004's Anchorman as the song that introduced Christina Applegate's character Veronica Corningstone.)

With its soulful, upbeat backing, "i" is vastly different than anything we heard on the dark Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. And while It's certainly not Pharrell's "Happy" — Lamar's rosy hook is cut by lines like "The world is a ghetto with guns and picket signs" and "He said I gotta get up, life is more than suicide" — it proves that he can spin an uplifting message with the best of them. 

It's positive, but in a smart and biting way, which blends nicely with Lamar's frenetic energy and unmatched wordplay.

Most notably though, Lamar is bringing back the soul sound that Kanye West pioneered on his classic albums and then left behind on Yeezus. It's a big departure, but it's also bold, given how much pressure Lamar's success has placed on him. "i" is his first single in nearly two years, and the world is listening closely — if all goes well, he could stake his claim as the best in the game. 

He has yet to announce the title or release date for the new album, but if "i" is any indication, we're in for a good time.

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Sophie Kleeman

Sophie is a staff writer at Mic covering the intersection of tech and culture. She's based in New York and can be reached at sophie@mic.com.

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