The song was produced by YG Entertainment's main producer, Teddy Park. It was described as an electronic hip hop track that is similar to 2NE1's debut single "Fire". The style of the song is said to be familiar to the youth who are used to clubbing culture.
The first teaser of the song was released on June 19, 2011 featuring 2NE1's leader, CL. The teaser was posted via YG-Life along with the official artwork of the song. YG Entertainment also revealed that they will release a 10-second snippet of the song each day until the full track release on June 24.
After a three-day delay on its planned release, the music video of the song premiered on 2NE1's official Youtube channel on June 27, 2011. It was directed by Seo Hyun Seung who also directed their previous music videos like "Fire", "Try to Follow Me" and "Can't Nobody".
Upon the video's release and positively received performances, the group announced a Dance Competition where fans were to attempt the choreography and post it online, and the members of 2NE1 would choose the winner. The winner was an all-female dance troupe from Vietnam called L.Y.N.T.
The single topped the Gaon Chart upon its initial release[not in citation given] in Korea and while it was not commercially successful in Japan it won several awards. In Korea, "I Am the Best" was very successful, selling over 3.5 million digital copies in 2011 and earning the 7th position in the 2011 Gaon Year-End chart. It was surpassed by 2NE1's other hit, "Lonely", which was in the 4th position and Park Bom's solo single "Don't Cry", in the 5th position. As of June 2012, "I Am the Best" has sold a grand total of 3,847,000 downloads in South Korea alone.
The song has been nominated for multiple awards and has won at the Korean Music Awards and The Japanese Music Video Awards, amongst others. It won the "Song of the Year" award at the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards.