Kendrick Lamar goes back in time in a couple of ways for his much-anticpated new single "i."

It's the first solo release from the rapper since "good kid, m.A.A.d city" came along and blew minds two years ago (and about eights months since he was robbed of armfuls of Grammys).

The intro sounds like it was ripped from the Civil Rights era in the late '60s, with an announcer hyping a speech from "Brother Kendrick Lamar."

"He's not a rapper, he's a writer! He's a lover!" he says. "If you read in between the lines, we’ll learn to love one another. You can't do that without lovin' yourself..." Record scratch.

Then a guitar-tittering Isley Brothers sample, from "That Lady," kicks in, teleporting the Compton writer star right into 1973. The Rahki-produced and Ali-mixed song keeps it light and fun from then on out, with Lamar keeping the positive vibe flowing.

"Dreams are reality’s peace / Blow steam in the face of the beast / The sky can fall down / The wind can cry down / The strong in me / I still smile," he rhymes over the hooks. "I've been through a whole lot / Trials and tribulations but I know God/ Satan want to put me in a bow tie/pray that the holy water don’t go dry."

Keep an ear out for the blaring of car horns, shooting you in the city, but then goofily off-setting them with keyboards ad-libs straight outta the play room.

It's a refreshingly, self-loving song, a swagger without put-downs or diamonds.

Lamar has maintained that his new album will be out this year. This is a good sign of things to come.

After five years as a columnist and editor at Billboard, Katie Hasty joined HitFix in 2009 for music and film reporting out of New York. The Midwest native has worked as a writer, music promoter and in A&R since 1999 and performs with her band Numbers And Letters.