Kendrick Lamar
Katie Darby—Invision/AP
September 23, 2014 10:27 AM EDT

Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 opus good kid, m.A.A.d city was one of the most-discussed rap albums in recent memory — so it would be understandable if Lamar wanted to rest on his laurels and take his sweet time following up a record that earned rave reviews and crashed numerous year-end best lists.

But no, the Compton rapper is back with “i,” the first single from his as-yet-untitled next album. Instead of mining the grit of his past for inspiration, Lamar this time opts for some self love on the soulful, feel-good offering, which samples the Isley Brothers’ 1973 jam “That Lady”: “Everybody lack confidence, how many times my potential was anonymous? / How many times the city makin’ me promises, so I promise this / I love myself.”

Not that he had a problem with confidence before — his hip-hop peers probably haven’t forgotten his landmark “Control” verse. Hear “i” below:

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Write to Nolan Feeney at

Read More From TIME
You May Also Like