K. Dot breaks down the live version of “i” in part three of his interview with MTV.
During the third installment of MTV’s four-part sit down with Kendrick Lamar, the TDE rapper explains the significance of the album version of “i” and explains the freestyle portion of the record.
MTV’s Hip Hop news editor Rob Markman tells Kendrick that he “loved” “i” when he first heard the song, but was disappointed when he heard the live version on the album.
When he reached the end of the song, and Kendrick begins to breakup a fight within the crowd, Markman said that’s when he began to “get it.”
“It had to be cohesive with the conceptual part of the album,” Kendrick explains. “I see things as scenes and movies when I write. Even if it won two Grammys, it’s still going to go on the album my way. It plays into the part going into ‘Mortal Man.’”
After Kendrick breaks up a fictional fight on “i”, he raps a freestyle aimed at Oprah Winfrey – regarding the word “nigger.”
“Are you going to reclaim the word?” Markman asks Lamar.
“We’ve been trying to do it,” he says. “It still never translates and is appeasing to the ear. This is a start and that was the purpose for it… It’s been under our nose for years, but we all are kings at the end of the day.”
Kendrick is referring to the definition of the word negus, which he emphatically spells out during his freestyle.
“N-E-G-U-S, definition: royalty, king, royalty. Wait listen, N-E-G-U-S description: black ruler,” Kendrick raps at the end of the live version of “i”.
“I had to look it up,” Markman replies. “It forced me to go and research. I know with you, it’s never just rap.”
Watch the full interview below:
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