I is a very upbeat song. But its underlying theme is introspective: No matter what is going on around you, there is power in viewing yourself positively; regardless of the terrible things that happen in the world, you can look inside yourself to find the strength you need to survive.
I opens with a man praising Lamar for his talent and wisdom in front of a loud audience. “We got a young brother that stands for something. We got a young brother that believes in all of us,” the voice, presumably a pastor, says. “Brother Kendrick Lamar: he’s not a rapper, he’s a writer, he’s an author. And if you read between the lines, we’ll learn how to love one another. But you can’t do that, I said you can’t do that, without loving yourself first.”
“And I love myself,” repeats in the hook, reminding us of the history of black artists addressing a way to find positivity in the harrowing realities that plague black communities, just as Angelou did in that famous poem.-ThinkProgressive.org