If I made a list of things that tempted me to get up and dance this week, Kendrick Lamar’s latest single “i” would be at the top of the list. It’s not just the sweet nod to the Isley Brothers or the lyrics, it’s that heavy sigh of relief that somebody else get’s it, shapes it into dopeness and then shares it.
But if that ain’t enough, the video brings it all together in an array of black cinematic excellence all for our viewing pleasure. Wait…what am I doing? Let me hand over the breakdown to writer, actress and fellow hbg Ms. Cynthia Francillon instead. She does the explanation way more justice than I ever could. Go head on girl…school em!
LET’S DISSECT WHY THIS IS GREAT:
1. A rapper who’s currently one more single away from becoming full blown mainstream who ISN’T switching gears just yet to cater to the mainstream audience and what they consider hip-hop to be/what hip-hop has become, which is between Iggy Azalea, Bobby Schmurda, and Drake.
2. A rapper who’s this close to full blown mainstream that isn’t rapping about simple shit, and who’s rapping over The Isley Brother’s “That Lady,” about loving himself regardless of the oppression that’s oozing through the cracks of our broken community/country.
3. The video of a rapper who’s close to full blown mainstream depicts the beauty and the tragedy of how Black people live. Where you feel incredibly happy to want to be in the crowd of people who are dancing at the club or walking the streets with Kendrick, you begin to feel a bit of annoyance seeing the police handcuffing the black man, or seeing the man yell and scream at his lady with kids around.
4. The video featured beautiful black people, in all different shades and all different personalities, just BEING. The women weren’t heavily sexualized and didn’t only have large breasts, big asses, light skins, and long, flowy hair. Our girls with kinks and curls came through, with skin shades reminiscent of coffee or honey, who were skinny or had a little sum’n sum’n. It was one great big party, and reminded me of Janelle Monae’s “Electric Lady,” video, where a bunch of beautiful Black people are together and CELEBRATING. Waving hands, dancing, singing out loud, SMILING… This year has been a whirlpool of anger, disappointment, eye rolls, “Fuck You’s”, and we haven’t gotten much reason to smile, aside from seeing people like Mo’Ne Davis achieve and succeed. It’s refreshing seeing us smile on our screens.
5. This video and the song illustrate where Kendrick is at. It illustrates he’s down for his blackness, his community, his art, his fans, and himself. In an industry where money talks quicker than your imagination to create great shit does, Kendrick continues to make money while he creates great shit, while representing us and himself. He’s not afraid of the truth, when it comes to telling it or BEING it.
6. That beat goes hard, tho.
See for yourself…
Devoya Mayo is Co-Creator of The Happy Black Girl
Get To Know An HBG is her favorite column to write.
You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org