Brow Beat

Kendrick Lamar Dances Through a Conflicted City in His “i” Music Video

In September, Kendrick Lamar shared “i,” the lead single off his still-untitled third album. Sound-wise, the song was somewhat surprising, a cheerful anthem rapped in an unusually high register over an upbeat sample of the Isley Brothers’ “That Lady.” The new video for the song exudes a similarly buoyant energy, but there’s more at work than meets the eye.

The video seems like a simple, “Happy”-like concept—Lamar leaves a nightclub and two-steps his way through the city—but sprinkled throughout are little glimpses of discord: cops in the streets, sparring couples on porches, suicidal men in dimly lit kitchens. There’s an entire emotional tapestry rendered behind and around Lamar’s dance, and it highlights the smart social commentary that anchors his work even when he indulges his chipper side.