A lot of rappers record freestyles for radio stations, and then those stations post those videos on rap blogs. They’re usually boring and amateurish, and we usually don’t post them. But when Kendrick Lamar stops by his local rap giant Power 106 and freestyles for six minutes immediately after releasing a hotly discussed new single, that one might be worth your time and attention. In his marathon Power 106 freestyle, Kendrick goes in over a number of older beats (Freeway and Beanie Sitel’s “Roc The Mic,” Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover”), moving from a clearly-written verse to a few clearly-off-the-dome bits that mostly just underscore how great a writer Kendrick is. (He’s a fine freestyler, too, but it’s night and day.) There’s also a goofy bit where radio host Big Boy talks about how he writes all Kendrick’s lyrics. Kendrick also talks a bit about “i,” which doesn’t just interpolate the Isley Brothers but which also features new ad-libs that Ronald Isley recorded specifically for the track. Watch the video below.
Maybe take a minute and listen to “i” again if you think that song is too soft or too pop.