In ‘i’, the presumed first single from Kendrick’s follow up to the astonishing 2012 album Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, he seems to move into the territory of the self, trying to explore identity on the streets in which he was born and raised. He creates a distinct anthropomorphic locale to interact with, breaking down the contract between man and place into one of violence, with “the city making me promises” that it repeatedly breaks. Horns blare; we are told about the ghetto.
Ostensibly, none of this is surprising to a regular listener of Kendrick. However, rather than the California sun-dappled atmosphere that entranced us in Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, we are faced with a sound which is artificial; more sun-bed than sun itself. Our expectations, after Good Kid, have put Kendrick Lamar on something of a pedestal. It is immensely shocking to find our faith unsound.