Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Earl Sweatshirt truly is the Shakespeare of our generation and we see this through his song “Chum” in the Doris album. The song is pretty deep but he seems to be talking about his family life and how it has turned him into the person he is today.
Something sinister to it, pendulum swinging slow
A degenerate moving through the city with criminals
He is using quite ingenious wordplay in the above lines. In physics, a pendulums motion is said to be “degenerate” as friction increasingly slows it down. However, the word “degenerate” can also mean an immoral or corrupt person. Earl is describing the pendulums motion as similar to himself, as well as saying he was a moral person who is becoming more corrupted with time

When he says
Get up off the pavement, brush the dirt up off my psyche
Psyche, psyche
This indicates that his troubles are more complex now, involving his psyche rather than just lewd under-age drinking. The line “pendulum swinging slower, degenerate moving” in connection with the slowed down vocals in the words psyche, might mean that Earl’s degeneracy is slowing down with his age as he brushes the dirt off of his dirty psyche. He’s still inclined as a young adult to do stupid things, but he’s starting to slow down.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Poetry in form of Music

I chose the song Same Love by Macklemore &Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert. The central idea of this song-poem is gay and lesbian rights and the issue surrounding that topic. The speaker is a person speaking out against the hate and is presumably gay or lesbian. They talk about how it's ok to be who you are, even if that is gay, lesbian, bi, etc. They influence pride into the people who are in the same situations. This song was written in 2012 and at that time the LGBTQ+ community was not as welcomed and popular as it is today. This was how the speaker spoke out against the hate and defended his opinion on the topic. The song is written in a poetic way but there is no specific rhyming scheme to it but when listening to the song you can hear a rhythmic tone to it. The lyrics flow together as well as the verses and choruses. This song doesn't feature any metaphors, similes, personification, etc., but this poem still brings forth images and a story in the reader and listeners head. The speaker puts multiple stories in the song to bring an image to the audiences mind. They use imagery to get their message across.

Cartoons and Cereal

Throughout Hip-Hop history, Poetry has always been intertwined with experiences and lyrical metaphors to help express and convey an emotion, thus expanding and bring together communities between people through, childhood experiences, love, and mental health. Kendrick Lamar is considerably a more recent hip-hop icon that conveys his poetry with his experiences of drugs, love, hate, loneliness and his childhood home. In his song "Cartoons and Cereal" released in 2012, he emphasizes the parallels of addiction and youth. He focused on the power of idolizing cartoons and being youthful with the power of addiction, when growing up you are exposed to new things. These "adult things" that he was exposed to while growing up; he wasn't shielded by them by parental figures.

I wanna hit line drives…
Wanna lose weight and keep eating...
For you...
Hey, whats up doc
As the song continues, we learn Kendrick grew up around his best friends, his A1 that he went way back with- especially to the reference to sandboxes having a double meaning because its literal and figurative because sandboxes are a symbol of youth and innocent “the Good ‘ol days”, back when life was good and all about fun. And, he continues to say because of their background, being youth his 'brother' was holding a handgun due to gang affiliations and his 'sister' giving birth, due to the systematic oppression of young Black women because used and having their innocence taken away due to lack of information on abstinence and education, it shows the poverty of their neighborhood and their "Worlds"

Now I was raised in a sandbox, next to you and her
You was holding the handgun, she was giving birth
To a baby boy to be just like you, I-I wonder what's that worth
The ideology of Black boys not having no worth in our society, as just being gang affiliated and targets for police brutality- to be a black Boy to Kendrick means their life doesn’t hold much value because they barely make it to adulthood anyway. So,what’s the real value to Black lives?
I-I wonder if you ever knew that you was a role model to me first
The next day I-I woke up in the morning, seen you on the news
Looked in the mirror, then realized that I-I-I had something to prove
Image result for cartoon and cereal
This is shown that, Black boys,look up to Black men peep how they were taught to continuous feed into the cycle of seeing themselves on TV in a negative light, Kendrick says to he will be different by proving that he is different, all of this while growing up while exposed to these factors that will shape his perspectives on his value of his life and others around him
You told me "Don't be like me, just finish watching cartoons"
Which is funny now cause all I see is Wile E. Coyote's in the room
The coyotes symbolize the future obstacles of gangs, and vivid imagination as being a child seeing ‘villains’ try to conquer and win against the innocent and heroes, Kendrick tries to be the hero and still remain good and focused on trying to grow up while being prematurely exposed explicitly by teen pregnancy and gang violence and being targeted because he is a Black male in Compton. I'd argue his song is poetry because it lays a foundation of a experiences that Kendrick feels and convey to make people feel some way about his story through things all humans go through; coming of age.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

What Do They Call Me?

"Four Women" is written and recorded by the artist Nina Simone from her album Wild Is the Wind. The song was recorded in 1965 and released in 1966. This song is about the depictions of four women with different skin tones and stereotypes. The women depicted in this song are based off of real women. The song also dates back to the slave era where these stereotypes originated. The speakers in this song are four different African American females. The audience are African American women who relate to the descriptions and stereotypes in this song. T

he main use of imagery really brings out the poetic side of the song by creating a stereotypical picture of each women. The use of imagery and first person throughout the whole song also communicates experience for those who actually live with these descriptions and stereotypes. The lyrics of the song would be divided into four stanzas, one for each woman depicted. The first line in each stanza starts out with a woman stating, "My skin is..." to kick off the description of that woman. The women would go on to describe themselves including, "My hair is long", "My manner is tough", and "My hips invite you" Each stanza is directed to a specific type of woman, creates a specific image for them, and conveys a specific experience that they can possibly relate to which will pull in the African American female audience. They will feel like the song is written about them because, poetically, it is written about them. The song written and sang in first person adds on to the personal feel of the it.

Even if some African American females have not experienced these stereotypes, they can feel the experience of those who have because the first person supports the song being for all African American women. The stanzas end with the question, "What do they call me", "they", meaning those who create and believe in the stereotypes, followed by the names, "Aunt Sarah", "Saffronia", "Sweet Thing", and "Peaches". The names in the song add an emotional dimension to the song by providing an unwanted symbol from those who branded them with it to the women who "fit the description". There is a personal connection with those names and the description behind them to the women who represent them making the audience feel emotionally attached to the song. A song with the capability to be directed to people with the use imagery and first person, communicating experiences, and creating an emotional dimension should be considered a fantastic poem.

Saturday, December 15, 2018


The song I choose is "Reborn" on Kanye's new album "Kids See Ghosts" featuring Kid Cudi. This song explains how when adversity hits, you should not get discouraged and keep moving forward. The first time I heard this song, I was going through a tough time I can honestly say that this song it helped me.

I'm so, I'm so reborn, I'm moving' forward
Keep moving' forward, keep moving' forward
Ain't no stress on me Lord, I'm moving' forward
Keep moving' forward, keep moving' forward
Keep moving' forward, keep moving' forward
Ain't no stress on me Lord, I'm moving' forward
Keep moving' forward, keep moving' forward
I'm so, I'm so reborn, I'm moving' forward

The speaker in the chorus, (Kid Cudi) is telling the audience about how he feels as if he is a new person and all stress is gone. I believe that this song can touch many people because everyone has faced a tough obstacle and this may help them. Also, even though the song was made by "rappers", there is a spiritual aspect the song. This song takes away the feeling of being "spiritually impoverished." It said poetry is gives a "unique value to realized life" and feel as if the song portrays that.

Come Back to Earth

One of best songs on the late Mac Miller's 2018 album Swimming is called "Come Back to Earth." It is the first track on the album. In the song Miller discusses how he wishes he could stop being to introverted
My regrets look just like texts I shouldn't send
And I've got neighbors, their more like strangers
We should be friends
I just need a way out of my head
I'll do anything for a way out
Of my head
The neighbors that Miller is talking about are more than just his next door neighbors but they are everyone he encounters. He's depression does not allow him to function properly in society. He does not know how to properly feel emotions and connect with people.

I just need a way out of my head
I'll do anything for a way out
Of my head
The way only way Miller feels that he can get out of his head is through abusing drugs. Unfortunately, His untimely death due to drug overdose has illuminated his drug abuse. Some have said that this song and his entire Swimming album was a cry for help.

The verse of the song utilizes the motif of water in lines like:
And I was drowning but now I'm swimming
Through stressful waters to relief
I wish it was nice out, but it look like rain

The water motif shows that Miller is drowning in his depression but he is slowing navigating into happy waters. Drowning is all consuming. It's scary and there is no way to get out of it without the help of other people and/or learning how to swim.

In the song, he doesn't mention the words "Come Back to Earth" or anything space related. This left me wondering why he titles the song "Come Back to Earth." I thought about it and maybe the song is a reference to his 2013 song, Earth. He talks a happier time when she was in love. In Earth, he talks about his entire worldview being different because he is in love. "Come Back to Earth" is about Mac Miller wanting to have similar emotions and experiences to the ones he did in 2013.

Friday, December 14, 2018

She Reminds Me of a West Side Story

Song: "Maria Maria"
Artist: Carlos Santana
Album: Supernatural

My all time favorite song is one called "Maria Maria" off of Carlos Santana's album Supernatural. It tells the story of a girl named Maria, and her attempt to escape the life she's living. To me, this song embodies poetry in the best sense of the word.
I said a la favella los colores,
the streets are getting hotter.
There is no water to put out the fire.
Ni gota de esperanza.
When the parts in Spanish are translated, the stanza states that "If rain were a metaphor for hope, not a drop of it could be found." This line adds to the situation that Maria is in, and how badly she wants to try and escape it. The singer also claims that Maria reminds them of a "West Side story." The beauty in this metaphor is that, while a person obviously can't be a story, they are able to be compared to something all listeners can picture.

I have been reading and writing poetry almost every day after school for the past few weeks, and something I have realized is that poetry can be many things. It's main purpose is to find a way to rearrange words, so that one person's experience becomes a metaphor for another person's life. A song like "Maria Maria" isn't one that everyone may relate to personally, we may not all know a Maria, but we are still able to picture her along with her pain, and her story. Not to mention, Carlos Santana is pretty legendary himself.


Camila Cabello's song "Consequences" from the album Camila is truly a piece of poetry. The album Camila was released soon after her departure of Fifth Harmony. The entire album Camila seemed to encapsulate her liberation from her old band and ability to fully indulge in her own style of music and culture. The song "Consequences" is one of her more personal pieces that could've never been released if she were to stay in Fifth Harmony.

Every word is beautifully sang with a sorrowful and painful tone, conveying a story, possibly one of her own experiences, of a toxic relationship. The lyrics strongly suggest she's talking about herself by her usage of possessive pronouns and first person pronouns such as mine, I'm, I, and me. Through her choice of first person pronouns, it not only makes the entire song more personal to the listener and relatable, but also reminds the audience of her own humanity. Often times fans forget celebrities are humans too and face their own heart breaks and toxic relationships like any other human. Through her figure of speech and tone combined, we not only hear her pain and despair, but become aware of who she's directing it to.

For parts of the song, she is directing the emotion and focus towards her ex, however during the section,

    "Hesitation, awkward conversation
      Running on low expectation
      Every siren that I was ignoring
      I'm paying for it"

she herself is the focus. This isn't the only time she is the focus, however it is to me the most powerful in the sense it's extremely relatable to the audience. "Consequence" is truly a piece of poetry, because throughout the entire song, you're there with her during the happy moments of the relationship, the toxic moments, and the reflection after.

How You Gonna Win If You Ain't Right Within?

Lauryn Hill's song "Doo-Wop (That Thing)", from her solo debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, should be considered poetry. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a triumph in the development of the hip-hop genre, and still remains to be one today.

The primary theme within this song is how men and women tend to exploit each other materialistically, and how the obsession of materialism can corrupt a person. The song begins with a message towards women who are caught up in material values:

          Talking out your neck, sayin' you're a Christian
          A Muslim, sleeping with the jinn
          Now that was the sin that did Jezebel in
          Who you gon' tell when the repercussions spin?

Lauryn Hill's incorporation of the concept of religious values into this song was a smart choice. While the particular woman in this verse is saying that she has religious and righteous values, she ends up falling short as true religious values directly contrast her materialistic ones. Additionally, the wordplay utilized with jinn is very effective in enhancing the overall meaning of the song due to the meaning of jinn having ambiguity. In Islam, a jinn is an intelligent spirit with a lower status than an angel, so due to the context of Islam in the verse, "sleeping with the jinn" would go against religious values. Simultaneously, sleeping with the gin, or rather, drinking gin, also violates Islamic values since drinking alcohol as a Muslim is not permissible, or halal. The pun Lauryn Hill uses here is simple yet incredibly effective, and gives the verse much more of an impact that it would have had otherwise.

In the second part of the song, Lauryn Hill shifts her lyrical focus towards the values of men:

          The pretty face men claiming that they did a bid men
          Need to take care of they three or four kids
          And they face a court case when the child support late
          Money taking and heart breaking, now you wonder why women hate men

The use of internal rhyme throughout the lyrics worked here. These lyrics show how material obsession, particularly money, make men prioritize gaining that over all else, including family. When looking at these examples, such as the child support verse, the internal rhyme between "court case" and "support late" contribute to the overall flow of the song. Interestingly, Lauryn Hill's shift to internal rhyme in her lyrics primarily comes when she changes the focus of her song from women to men. Her intent here may have been to emphasize the qualities that men possess when caught up with material possessions.

Ultimately, this song resonates deeply with the flaws of human nature, and emphasizes the mistakes that we as a society often make.

Music Poetry- "Higher" by The Score

I believe “Higher” by The Score (Edan and Eddie), part of their Atlas album, is true poetry. It was written after moving to LA to pursue their music career, leaving their friends, family, and most of their belongings behind. As they faced challenges in this new world, The Score found their songs could provide the same sense of reassurance and confidence for others that they needed themselves.

Thus, this song (and many of their others) is intended to be empowering. It details the character's ability to overcome the struggles he faces, which inspires listeners to do the same. Edan explains, “... writing universally anthemic, relatable choruses and melodies that just – we want people to feel uplifted…” (atwoodmagazine).

They achieve this through the use of multidimensional lyrics. For example, in the phrase “All my life I have been fighting,” The Score uses fighting to illustrate multiple struggles. It could indicate literally fist-fighting to reach the top, but also demonstrate emotional or psychological perseverance. Moreover, the fighting may not only be against others, it could symbolize pushing himself to improve. Another example of multidimensional language is when they sing "They try to keep me down but I just get higher.” This could mean an obstacle that he must physically overcome, such as being tackled in football, but it also could symbolize stereotypes that confine citizens to certain standards, and exceeding expectations. This is similarly conveyed in the line "Think it's time I break my chains." He could mean literal chains from people holding him back, or breaking past expectations of what people assume. These chains could be literal or societal or even emotional weights.

Altogether, while the song illustrates one man's struggle, the overarching theme should be carried on to our own lives. We should use this determination as an example, whether trying to get a "higher" test score, a "higher" promotion, or simply "higher" confidence in oneself. 

Denzel's insight to the troubles of the the music industry

In his song Clout Cobain, on the album Taboo Denzel Curry reflects on his own insecurities as an artist as well as addressing some of the fundamental problems that affect the music industry today.

I just wanna feel myself, you want me to kill myself Man, I been on my own, Lord, I'ma need some help 
I just wanna feel myself, you want me to kill myself
Man, it's been so damn long, dealing with the things I've felt

In this opening chorus Denzel comes forward with his own struggles. Addressing those that wish bad on him as "you", he explains the isolation he feels and the constant feeling that others want to see him fail, or even kill himself.

I don't even know what to feel, they don't even know what's real
Dry tears with a dollar bill, I'm out tryna make a mill', oh
Why you wanna take my soul? I'm yelling out "hell no!"
I can't even trust my friends, most of them might be foes

The first first dives into the fear and insecurities that Denzel feels as an artist. He even goes as far as to say he feels his own friends might not even be trustworthy. The use of "they" in the first line is meant to reference some fans who don't recognize the real and painful things that artists can experience.

He feels many fans turn a blind eye to artist's mental health and can't see the real problems they are facing. He even goes on to say they're attempting to take his soul and identity by stripping him down to just someone who makes music and doesn't have serious problems.

These problems are often swept under the rug and not talked about until the artist ultimately may have to step away from music or even take their own life. By calling out these issues Denzel wants to bring awareness to the severity of the difficulties artists face in the music industry.

A 15 Year Old Prodigy?

At fifteen years old, Billie Eilish has managed to have an acclaimed debut EP, a sold out tour, and over three million monthly streams on Spotify. She has accomplished all of her fame within two years and at fifteen years old proving her resilience and talent.

Her angelic voice doesn't match her appearance, yet the somber and sadistic themes of her lyrics exemplify the sadness and vulnerability she feels within life and society. She feels restricted by many aspects society and that her fame has set on her, but she continues to stay true to herself within everything.

In her song, Idon'twannabeyouanymore, Eilish speaks to the stereotypes and constructs society is stained with.

     If teardrops could be bottled
     There'd be swimming pools filled by models
     Told "a tight dress is what makes you a whore"
     If "I love you" was a promise
     Would you break it, if you're honest?
     Tell the mirror what you know she's heard before
     I don't wanna be you...

She speaks of the unseen pressure that everyone feels. The title of the song helps emphasize this, there are no spaces among the six words, which makes the reader do a double take when trying to encode what is being said. She also uses assonance in this stanza, which makes the phrases more cohesive and imitates the structure of villanelle/sonnets. 

There is also personification within this stanza as she compares the "teardrops in a bottle" to "swimming pools filled with models". This is powerful because it parallels the teardrops and sadness to the models - which are the ideal standards that society has placed on us. 

Netflix trip by AJR

In the song ¨Netflix Trip¨ by AJR it is an extended metaphor comparing the tv show The Office with his love.  And his life which is a timeline of his experience with growing up. 
 I turned down Jameson when I was twelve.  
This line is talking about alcohol and how he was asked to drink when he was twelve. Then the next lines are talking about another time in his life in comparison to the office.  
The one where Dwight became the head of Sales
My eighth-grade graduation wished me well
The one where Dwight became the head of Sales
This is very poetic because it was talking about his growing up going from middle school to high school.  A very big part in someones a kids life.  And Dwight coming head of sales is a very big deal because of his growth in the company.  The strong is a strong message of coming to age and big moments in life. 

Rico Has a Dark Story

Rico Story by Speaker Knockerz is a single which speaks of an anecdote, and more ignores the music aspect in order to portray the incident in the song. Although Speaker Knockerz is a relatively unknown artist, Rico Story 1, 2, and 3 are very popular songs. Rico Story one is about a man who doesn't have much money and is driven into crime, but later sees that his girlfriend and accomplice ends up rating him out and putting him in jail. He later gets out through some dirty work and while he's out, he encounters his child's mother, who is also the same woman who put him in jail... and that's where Rico Story 2 starts. Throughout the song, Speaker Kockerz rhymes the last word of the sentence with the word in the previous line.
He told her, baby, let's go rob a f*cking bank
she said, okay and then they filled the gas tank
Pulled up to the bank, he parked on the side
He got out the car, she said, I'll stay inside
Put his mask on, load his four-four
Prayed to God and then he opened the door...
By using the use of ABAB rhyme it takes a regular story of someone's life and gives a catchy tone that brings out the "song sound" of the narrative. Along with the music in the background, the rhyme introduced in the song deceives the reader into listening to it as a song rather than a regular story. The overall sound of the song is deceiving because it is a story that is catchy like a song, which works together to build a wonderful piece of music.

Night Moves

Night Moves is a album and song that was released in 1976 by Bob Seger. I feel that this song is a perfect example of how poetry and music combine to make a unique and moving song in which the listener becomes entranced. While listening to this song I feel relaxed and at the same time engrossed in the story that Bob Seger is singing about.

Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy
Out in the back seat of my '60 Chevy
Workin' on mysteries without any clues
Workin' on our night moves

This is the second verse of the song and Bob Seger is already alluding towards a sensual and romantic time with a woman he he is in to, but he doesn't come out and say it. Bob uses the line "Workin' on mysteries without any clues" and "Workin' on our night moves" to describe how he is involved with this woman and I think he uses poet language in these lines because the words go deeper than a literal sense, The mysteries that they are trying to solve are their feelings and romantic urges for one another.

Oh the wonder
felt the lightning
And we waited on the thunder
Waited on the thunder

In the 5th verse of the song these lines are said and they contain literal aspects of a storm but also poetic and multidimensional aspects of the feelings that Bob Seger is getting from the girl he is with. When talking about lightning and thunder he is anticipating a good time and then the thunder hits and he feels intensity from the situation that him and the girl are in.

Take Me Home, Music Poetry

It’s hard to say poetry is just one “thing”. To boil such a complex art form into one unit would
be impossible. It is not, however, impossible to say one thing is poetry. Take, for example, John
Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Each word carries weight. The song has multiple
meanings. It is truly poetry. The speaker is an adult, who, after a long hiatus, hears the call of
West Virginia, their home. The occasion is not clearly established, but one can infer that the piece occurs during a moment’s nostalgia, as established by the reminiscent, romantic language. The piece seeks to convey the irresistible pull of being, for a moment, caught by the echoes of home. It helps one understand what it’s like to be far from where you grew up and remember the familiarity of
where you once were. The nostalgic tone is set immediately:

Almost heaven, West Virginia
West Virginia is established as a utopia within the narrator’s memories. As they put it,

All my memories, gather round her
The pull of West Virginia is literally occuring on the surface. The text tells the story of a West Virginian away from home. The double meaning, however, exists as a commentary of the nature of “home” itself. West Virginia is not simply a place, it’s an idea. The West Virginia described is not a literal West Virginia. The piece does not occur within West Virginia. As the narrator describes it, “West Virginia” is a manifestation of safety and familiarity.

I hear her voice in the morning hour she calls me
Radio reminds me of my home far away
Driving down the road I get a feeling
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Her(West Virginia) calls to the narrator. The starry sky and misty moonshine are memories. The “calls”, are nostalgia. At its core, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” is a song about home. Its words carry multiple meaning, as a poem’s should. It conveys the need for home in addition to an engaging story about someone far from West Virginia. A year from now, most of my peers and I will be far from home. We will yearn for the warmth of youth. Oak Park will become our West Virginia. And I’m definitely gonna crank this.

Lose Yourself in These Lyrics

"Lose Yourself" by Eminem was released on September 17th, 2002 in Marshall's movie, 8 Mile. "Lose Yourself" received acclaim from music critics, with many critics praising the song's inspiring, aggressive themes and describing it as Eminem's best work to date. Aside from being one of the only white rappers in the game, Eminem is most commonly famous for his creative lyrics and incredible flow. Eminem can take the audience on a story with ease. In Lose Yourself Eminem does this the best.

The song's lyrics explicitly sum up the background of Eminem's character in 8 Mile, B-Rabbit, with the first verse summing up much of the plot of the movie. The song incorporates several aggressive themes, largely dealing with the struggles dealt with by B-Rabbit, and how he eventually overcomes his many problems and obstacles to gain the respect of other rappers. It is similar to how Eminem needed to prove himself in the rap game due to being white in a predominantly African-American music genre.

For the more in depth analysis, most people consider rap to be rhyming the last two words of a sentence and being able to rap the line with a good tone and good flow. But, Eminem takes it a step further. He rhymes almost every single word in the sentence with the line preceding it. Also, aside from the complexity of the rhymes, he’s constantly rapping with good flow, never missing a beat.

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already: mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs but he keeps calm and ready

The rhyme scheme is as follows:
A being : Palms, Arms, Moms, Calm, Bomb, om
B being: Sweaty, Heavy, Already, spaghetti, Ready, forgetting
C being: knees, week
D being: vomit, on it
E being: Nervous, Surface

Eminem starts off the bat with a 4 syllable compound ( palms are sweaty ) and rhymes it for 4 more times (arms are heavy, mom’s spaghetti, calm and ready, calm and ready) meanwhile he also uses the second part of the compound on the second bar (already) and the first part on the 4th bar (bombs), to top it all off Eminem also squeezes in internal 3 types of internal rhymes (The C, B and E). And this is only in the beginning of the song, doing the whole song would be too much. The effectiveness of his rhyming paired with his storytelling creates an instant classic from on of the greatest rappers of all time.

Do We Make Choices Or Do Choices Make Us?

To Kill a King’s emotional anthem “Choices” from their 2014 album Cannibals With Cutlery provides the listener with a beautiful snapshot of the deterioration of a relationship. While it’s easy to get goosebumps from nearly every song off of this album, frontman Ralph Pelleymounter’s songwriting abilities shine front and center in “Choices”. Pellymounter opens with the striking line
I never took away your crutch
Just became it day by day
Pellymounter is speaking to a partner in a past relationship. His use of past tense language clearly informs the reader that the relationship has ended, and this song is a message to his ex. In said relationship, he confesses that he never took away his partner’s “crutch”, but over time took it’s place. His use of the word “crutch” is interesting, as crutches are not known for being particularly sturdy or helpful in the long term. He is saying that he never was a truly strong support system, but rather a temporary one. Pellymounter continues by lamenting that
This is how the summer ends
This line suggests that his relationship or love for this person is fleeting, much like the summer. The next verse contains a very small shift, but a very impactful one.
You never took away my crutch
Just became it day by day
Here the writer is acknowledging that he was not the only one playing a part in their unhealthy, unstable relationship. His partner also served as a crutch, never truly providing support, or providing only superficial support. He is basically saying with the first few lines of the first two verses that they had a very unhealthy relationship, enabled by both parties, wherein they could not function without the other person. After a dynamic shift in the song itself, with the beat increasing, the lyrics experience a tone shift with the introduction of the first chorus.
I, I had the same choices as you do
As you do
And you fall
Fall like I knew you would
Lead me down, down, down
Pellymounter now reveals that after the end of the relationship, him and his partner were both in the same position emotionally. He made the conscious choice not to fall into despair or other unhealthy behaviors with his ex-partner. He rejects the idea of being dragged down with them. After the chorus, Pellymounter continues to give examples of unhealthy behaviors in his relationship.
I never showed you what I want
You never told me what you need
A match bursting into flames
And all is dust soon enough
Eyes are open finally
Their lack of communication in the relationship was truly what caused it’s demise. Without both people being unhappy and not getting what they need, they could not continue. The match referred to in this line may symbolize some life or passion in the relationship, but not anything sustainable, as it will end up turning everything into dust. Pellymounter’s eyes are finally open to the toxicity of his relationship.

When It All Falls Down

It’s been almost 15 years since Kanye West released his debut studio album, The College Dropout, awarding the him his very first career Grammy. Presented on this album is a track titled “All Falls Down” ft. Syleena Johnson, a song that I have been bobbing my head to since I was a child. Although, at the time I was more focused on singing along with Syleena’s background vocals as I listened to this song at the loudest possible volume our radio could reach, I have come to learn, appreciate, and relate to every word of this 2004 hit.

According to the article we read that answers the question of what poetry is, I learned that poetry is a kind of language that relays a message more more intensely than ordinary language. With each verse of this song, I feel that listeners are exposed to a new issue that people in our society are plagued with. Kanye goes from reflecting on the life of a young girl who is forced to make important life decisions, then he moves to a reflection of his own self and his own values, and he ends with a verse reflecting and questioning the world in which we live and how we function, all while using his unique word choice to emphasize how much there is a need for a boost and improvement of confidence and self-worth of minorities in our society.

Kanye tells the story of a young woman and how she struggles to create a secure life for herself, but throughout all of this her main concern is the way other people perceive her. Afterwards, he shares his own story and shows how they both share a similar experience. Their story follows:

She has no idea what she doin' in college
That major that she majored in don't make no money
But she won't drop out, her parents'll look at her funny...
She like, "Fuck it, I'll just stay down hurr and do hair."
‘Cause that's enough money to buy her a few pairs
Of new Airs...
Couldn't afford a car, so she named her daughter Alexis
And she be dealin' with some issues that you can't believe
Single black female addicted to retail
Man, I promise, I'm so self-conscious
That's why you always see me with at least one of my watches
Rollie's and Pasha's done drove me crazy
I can't even pronounce nothin', pass that Ver-say-see!

Kanye sets up a story that is relatable to a lot of people. There is a lot of pressure for young adults graduating high school to know what they want to do in life. For some families, education is the main priority, hence why this young lady’s “parents’ll look at her funny” if she decided to cease her education and choose a different path. Despite knowing what her family expects of her, she decides that her appearance and her material possessions will be the driving factors in her life. She is more concerned about the things that will make her look like her life is put together, rather than striving for an education that might allow her to obtain all these things and more with her intelligence. Of course listeners also get to hear a play on words towards the end of her narrative. This young lady names her daughter “Alexis” which is a homophone of “ A Lexus”, a high end car, which would give her another way to say she is capable of owning something of a high value.

In the next verse, the point of view switches to a young man living in America. He is also concerned with how he looks to other people, which is why he always has to be wearing something or owning something expensive. He even reveals that he can not pronounce the name of expensive brands, which is shown by his mispronunciation of “Versace” when he says “Ver-say-see”. This alludes that he does not have the education to pronounce certain words, but it is again another example of people putting more value on material possessions than their education.

This leads me to the second half of verse two and last verse of song which analyzes these experiences in the context of our society and whether or not material possessions will make a difference in these two people's lives.

We shine because they hate us, floss 'cause they degrade us
We tryna buy back our 40 acres
And for that paper, look how low we'll stoop
Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe...
Things we buy to cover up what's inside
'Cause they made us hate ourself and love they wealth
That's why shorty's hollerin', "Where the ballers at?"
Drug dealer buy Jordan, crackhead buy crack
And the white man get paid off of all of that…

These young African Americans feel that material wealth is the only way they will be able to keep up with others around them, which explains the reason they “floss” is because other races often “degrade us”.  They believe that material possessions will allow them to excel in the social hierarchy and become like those that are deemed to be superior due to their wealth. However, in the end, this song reveals that it does not make a difference. To show this, Kanye uses the expression, “you still a nigga in a coupe”. This can be read to mean a coupe as a two door car or a coop, which is a small cage or confined space. This continues the theme of internalized racism that holds people imprisoned in our society. Kanye is saying, no matter their material possessions or wealth, African Americans or other minorities will always be looked at as inferior to the other races which profit off of our insecurities and adversities, shown in the line “the white man get paid off all of that”.  To tie it all together the chorus of this song encourages listeners to think about what will remain when it all falls down and all of their wealth is gone.

All in all, I really encourage people to actually listen to the lyrics of the songs we hear played on the radio and consider the deeper meaning they have to offer.

Mick Jenkins is the Man

Song: Stress Fracture
Artist: Mick Jenkins
Album: Pieces of a Man
Lyric Link: stress fracture

Mick Jenkins' song "Stress Fracture", a beautiful cut from his most recent album, Pieces of a Man, is a chilling and layered song about the struggles of, and what it is to be a man in today's society. He goes in depth talking about his life, success, and his extracurricular activities, if you will, and how all of those make him the man that he is. He also addresses the struggle he feels to dig into his emotions when he has such a fast moving life. He showcases this very clearly with the lines,

I don't got time to figure out how I feel, for real
I don't got a mind to figure out the fake and the real, at all

These two lines portray his struggles in his fast life of fame and glory, he is saying that his life is moving too fast for him to find out what is really bothering him, or who is bothering him. He adds on to this with the next line, talking about the fact that he knows people will try to be around him because of his success and his money but not all of them will stick around if he loses it. There seems to be a very frustrated tone in these two lines. Mick Jenkins is just a man who wants to live his life, he doesn't want to be sidetracked or pulled down by things that won't help him get where he needs to go, but the frustration is that he has to deal with it anyway, he has to dig into his emotions, he has to have a good judge of character, because that is what men have to do, whether they like it or not.

Mick Jenkins later says,

Cause I look good
I dress good
I smoke good
I stress a lot
Who do I run to?
The papers in frontal the pain that'll subdue
They can't see me undo
They can't see me undone
I'm too lit right now
I'm big on the Internet
Pretend I ain't into that

This is a very telling portion of the song. It starts off with Mick being a little bit braggadocios, as a young man might be. He loves his new found success, his money, his clothes, he gets to smoke highly potent marijuana, and all of that makes him happy, but he still has stress. No matter how good or how much one may have, your subconscious will always be there. The next line is also very telling of his struggle. He says "Who do I run to?". This is a common struggle with a man, he is going through emotions but feel he doesn't have anyone to vent to, especially because of his success, which is why he talks about his paper (money) in the next line, and says "they can't see me undo". He feels that because of his success and wealth he is not able to show his vulnerability, it will make him look weak, but he doesn't realize that it is alright to be vulnerable, he is a man, and men feel emotion, he just feels that he needs to keep things bottled up. He shows this also, by acknowledging he is famous ("I'm big on the internet") but he also knows how see through the internet really is, when he says "pretend I ain't into that", which is very telling of our society today. He wants to act like a cool guy and not worry about how he is perceived or what people think of him, but in reality, he cares. Throughout this whole song, he is talking as a man who is trying not to care about the stress and pitfalls of being a successful man, but deep down he is just a man with emotions.

What makes this song poetry to me, is the way he really showed rather than telling throughout this whole song, he never told us how he felt, he gave us clues. Another way I believe this is poetry is the fact that he never gave us a truth or a definitive answer. In the song he talks about all the ways that he is a man and all they ways he faces problems with that, but he never tells us what is actually is to be a man, or how to deal with those emotions, he allows the listener to take it for what it is, and take what they can from it, which in my opinion is the true mark of a great writer, and I think Mick Jenkins portrayed that in this piece.

How Grizzly Bears, Soccer, and Cars Make a Great Poem

Despite his young age, Declan McKenna has an electrifying energy when performing, mesmerizing listeners with his raw, vulnerable vocals and clean production. However, his lyrics is what most captures me. At only 19, he crafts incredibly complex, insightful, and catchy lyrics, leaving the listener singing along to powerful messages before listening to the song a full time through. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his 2014 hit single “Brazil” featured in his 2017 album “What Do You Think About the Car?” In this song, the speaker, a fan of soccer, details their frustrations with the World Cup’s corruption and the problems facing Brazil since the announcement that the cup would be held there. The speaker then shifts at certain parts of the song to the perspective of the corrupt government and to the Brazilian people. The shifting perspectives battle against each other, trying to convince the others that their ideas are incorrect. Through exaggerated language and the subversion of expectations, McKenna allows the listener to feel the gravity of the events happening in Brazil and the amount of damage and chaos that can be done even when actions are taken with good intentions.

The most cryptic lines of the song are in the chorus in which McKenna describes a man who “lives down a river somewhere/With six cars and a grizzly bear/He's got eyes, but he can't see/Well, he talks like an angel but he looks like me.” This language is describing the Brazilian government. The government is described as an “angel” which reflects the power that they hold. However, the government “looks like me” reflecting how these individuals are merely ordinary people and shouldn’t wield so much power. This idea is further explored later in the song when McKenna switches perspectives to the government and says “I’m the face of God, I’m my father’s son” again presenting the complete control that the government has over the situation while being nothing more than another person. The religious language is also utilized by McKenna when speaking from the point of view of the Brazilian people, saying that he’s “faithless now though we win” showing a paradox again that even though there are these angelic and Godly figures presented throughout the song, it is causing a lack of faith of the people. The mysterious description given in the chorus creates a fantastical tone which demonstrates this God-like power held by the government and the confusion felt by the Brazilian people. The listener is presented with two opposing views of the situation: a fantastical one presented by the chorus but also a striking reality. This idea is furthered by paradoxical lines like, “I’m gonna burn your house down to spread peace and love.” The government continuously tries to give the world, “Something all the people need” but paradoxically forgets about the people it is hurting. In fact, that line “Something all the people need” is taken directly from “The Lorax” another story about how trying to do something that is best for yourself and some others can greatly backfire and destroy the lives of many more. This dualistic idea, is presented in the double meaning of some lines like “People are dying to get on T.V.” At first glance, this line is talking about the government desperately trying to get the world cup in their country because of how badly they want to be on television. However, this line is also drawing attention to the lack of resources supplied to the Brazilian people because of the effort and the ensuing deaths.

By presenting this subject matter in such cryptic tones, the listener can begin to feel the confusion by the Brazilian people and the fantastical world that the government seems to be living in, ignoring all concerns and plowing ahead on what they believe is best for the world and not their own people. So if you want a banger that is also about the corruption in FIFA and deaths that occur from it, do yourself a favor and go listen to “Brazil” by Declan McKenna.

Daniel Caesar Probably Took AP Psych

When analyzing the lyrics to Daniel Caesar's song "Freudian", his use of allusions, rhymes, and metaphors make the song feel more like a poem. The song as a whole is an allusion to Sigmund Freud both with the title and the topic of the song. One of Freud's main beliefs in understanding the human mind is that our childhoods mold our adult personalities, therefore shaping the rest of our lives. Caesar's song is addressed to his mother, and there are clear references to Freud's beliefs in the opening verse of the song:

        I have to preserve you 
        'Cause you're my everything
        Babe I know I f****d up
        F****d with some empty cups
        But you got your friends too
        Better believe in it
        Truth I'm up on my luck
        Can't stop running amok
        But you got your friends too

His mother is the one who raised him, shaping his childhood and, according to Freud, influencing his adulthood because of that. Caesar admits to his wrongdoings, but also points out that his mother has some too, Freud would identify that Caesar has these flaws because his mother has them. Caesar also refers to his mother as his "everything", probably because everything in his life up until this point is due to her influence on his childhood. 

In the second verse, Caesar uses the metaphor, "Rising up from the flames/ The phoenix that I became." Not only does he use figurative language to emphasize his point about how he's developed throughout his life/career, but Caesar also changes the wording of these lines in order to help the flow of the lyrics and make a rhyming couplet. Rather than saying "I became a phoenix", he reversed the wording. 

Another example of Caesar's attention to his rhymes becomes apparent in the bridge:

        Send me kisses when it's grey skies
        It's been so long, look how time flies
        If you love me won't you let me know
        I've been trying to learn to let you go
        Call my name whenever tears fall
        When you face your fears you stand tall

These six lines consist of three separate rhyming couplets, Caesar puts further emphasis on these lines by repeating them immediately afterwards and introducing a choir to sing with him for the entire bridge. This part of the song is still discussing his mother, but seems to show a bit of role reversal between the two. "Call my name whenever tears fall/ When you face your fears you stand tall," sounds like something a mother would typically say to her son, not the other way around. 

"High as Hope": Album or Anthology?

Florence + the Machine's most recent album "High as Hope" is the first album she has created since she took to sobriety. In an interview with The New York Times, she said her new album "created a creative bravery" and in an act of vulnerability, she "made a step away from the metaphoric."

According to Laurence Perrine, author of Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry, a true poet uses language resources and "the materials of life" to create a poem. Throughout Florence Welch's 2018 release, she draws on past experiences to inspire her lyrics. Most notably in her song "The End of Love"

The first experience she reflects on is the telling of a potentially spurious story about her family's history:
We were a family pulled from the flood
You tore the floorboards up
And let the river rush in
Not wash away, wash away
In an interview with Belfast Telegraph, she recalls how her great-great-grandfather, a sailor, saved her family from a flood by pulling up the floorboards in the house so the water would rush through and wouldn't wash the house away. When writing the chorus, she considered the symbolic value of extreme weather and decided the story symbolizes the impact the past has on the future and the weight of cleaning up the past's destruction.

She goes on to write about her grandmother's suicide in the song's second verse:
In a moment of joy and fury I threw myself
From the balcony like my grandmother so many years before me
These lines bank directly on "the materials of life" and employ simile as a language resource. She compares her present condition to that of her grandmother when she fell. Furthermore, Welch illuminates a pattern in the way the women in her family love, each having learned from her mother, a "trickle-down" that is comparable to the succession of the feeling of tragedy following her grandmother's death.

We then see allusion and connotation at play in the song's bridge:
And Joshua came down from the mountain
With a tablet in his hands
Told me that he loved me, yeah
And then ghosted me again
This stanza alludes to a passage in the Old Testament in which Moses receives the Ten Commandments. Then, Welch plays with the 21st-century connotation of the term "ghosted" referring to when a person's love-interest suddenly ceases communication without explanation. With this idea introduced, the tablet she references may have a more modern implication as an electronic device.

Despite making reference to specific events and stories, Florence Welch's song is still accessible to her audience. She creates a foundation that is personally significant but also encourages the listener to contribute their own experiences to the text, thus through the application of their imagination, senses, and emotions the song "enlighten[s] and move[s]" the listener.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

You Are Appreciated

The song that I chose is called Dear Mama, by Tupac Shakur. It's a song from his album, Me Against the World. This is actually one of the most special, touching, heartfelt songs I've ever came across in life. This song is about the indescribable love that he has for his mother. And even though they had their struggles, she was the one who made sure his needs were met. Tupac Shakur really sets the mood with the way he describes certain events. 

In the first verse, for example, 

I shed tears with my baby sister, over the years
We was poorer than the other little kids

Those lines really make me feel the sadness and the struggle that I'm sure they went through together. 

I would also say that Shakur uses imagery. He gave me the ability to form that mental picture in my head of things that he's obviously experienced in the past. 

In the first verse, he says 

I reminisce on the stress I caused, it was hell
Huggin' on my mama from a jail cell

That can surely make you picture him and his mother, together in the jail facility. 

Then in the second verse, he goes on to say

I moved out and started really hangin'
I needed money of my own, so I started slangin'
I aint guilty, 'cause even though I sell rocks
It feels good to put money in your mailbox
I love payin' rent when the rent is due
I hope you got the diamond necklace that I sent to you

The different devices that he uses are really just amazing, and this song is a perfect example of pure poetry. 

Dear Mama


Omar Sharif

Katrina Lenk's performance of "Omar Sharif" in the musical The Band's Visit  is technically stunning, and the somber tone of the music invokes feelings of nostalgia in the listener. The song occurs at a point in the musical when she is remembering childhood memories of listening to Egyptian music in her isolated desert hometown. The song is about how people can connect to things outside of their ordinary daily lives, and how they can use this wide thinking to expand their personal experiences.

There are two main tonal shifts within the song which emphasize the point. Towards the beginning, Dina (Lenk's character), uses vague language to describe how she experienced cultures that differed from her own (Egyptian movies and music) through chance, saying they "floated in on a jasmine wind". The first shift occurs with the phrase "Friday evening, Omar Sharif", as Lenk's voice gets louder and she gets more confident, she begins to describe the wonder that she and her mother held towards these pieces of foreign art. The song uses phrases that aren't exactly descriptive but imply that she needed this escape from tragedy to stay sane in her day to day, like when she watches the TV "in black and white and blurry through tears". Lenk then returns to the softer tone when she repeats the vague lyrics from the beginning of the song, which illustrates the comfort that these movies and music give her, she is soft about them.

The second tonal shift happens with the line "And the TV set becomes a garden", as Lenk grows in volume again and uses descriptions like this first line to show that these pieces of art have literally made their way into her life, and that she is better for it. The word choices here of nature imagery express beauty, a marked change from the tragedy implied earlier in the song, showing that her new experiences are providing her with comfort and making her life better. This is further shown as she goes back to the phrases that reference "jasmine wind" and share the same tone, and creates the feeling of comfort that comes with repetition.

M&M Poet Turned Wrapper

"Cleanin' Out My Closet" by Eminem was released on May 26th, 2002 in Marshall's album, The Eminem Show. This album is highly respected as one of Eminem's best with classics in "Till I Collapse" and "Without Me." Eminem's beautiful artistry and manipulation of words adds incredible new levels to "Cleanin' Out My Closet." This song tells the story of a young Marshall Mathers and his distaste for his own mother and the press. The song starts off with Em's troubles with the press and the people, stemming from his controversial rhymes and white demographic. He continues on to call out his mother for being a terrible mother even after Em's dad left both of them. Eminem tells a story with his music, every single lyric he produces is thought about long and hard until completely perfected.

     Now, I would never diss my own mama just to get recognition
     Take a second to listen 'fore you think this record is dissin'
     But put yourself in my position, just try to envision
     Witnessin' your mama poppin' prescription pills in the kitchen
     Bitchin' that someone's always goin' through her purse and shit's missin'
     Goin' through public housing systems, victim of Münchausen's Syndrome
     My whole life I was made to believe I was sick when I wasn't
     'Til I grew up, now I blew up, it makes you sick to your stomach, doesn't it?

Eminem's use of internal rhymes is especially apparent in these first eight bars of his third verse. (Ln 2), listen & dissin', (Ln 3), position & envision, (Ln 4), witnessin' & prescription & kitchen. Almost every single line in the first eight bars of this verse contains an internal rhyme or more. He also goes on to mention Münchausen's Syndrome which is a mental disorder where a caregiver, usually a mother, harms their child or describes non-existent symptoms of a sickness in order to get sympathy and attention. He uses Münchausen's Syndrome as an extended metaphor for the rest of this snippet, mentioning being made "to believe he was sick when he wasn't" and "it makes you sick to your stomach." In addition to extended metaphors and internal rhymes, in these eight bars alone Em also uses multiple slant rhymes in the form of recognition & dissin, envision & kitchen, and housing systems & Münchausen's Syndrome. Although this is only eight lines from a five minute song, these lines alone show Eminem's poetic prowess. The song as a whole is one of the best made in this century, giving a complete and entertaining story of Eminem's life. The way Em's rhymes work, along with his overall flow and poetic strategies implemented throughout the song, prove that Eminem is not only a wrapper, but a poet.

Imagine There's No Poetry

The song "Imagine", by John Lennon is one of the most beautiful, awe inspiring, and the most successful single of his career. Released in the middle of the Vietnam War in 1971, he was just as much a visionary as a songwriter. The song itself is short and simple, but the simplicity is what allows each word to carry so much weight. Lennon asks his listeners to just imagine; to imagine a place where we live in peace and unity.

According to Perrine, poetry should broaden or deepen the reader's experiences. He also states that poetry should allow the reader to gain a better understanding or new perspective on the world. "Imagine" broadens the reader's understanding of the world by asking them to imagine a reality that many could not fathom.

Lennon starts the song with the first line:

        Imagine there's no heaven
        It's easy if you try

He mentions religion multiple times in the song. His belief was that people claiming that "my God is better than your God" was the cause for a lot of unrest and violence in the world. Many people live their lives in order to get into heaven or to avoid hell. But what if there was no other place after death, and we had to pay our debts in this life. People would have to focus on the present. How would that change individuals behaviors towards others?

In the start of the second verse he sings: 

        Imagine there's no countries
        It isn't hard to do

Countries, boundaries, and claims for land have caused multiple wars in present day and throughout the history of the earth. What if there was only one big country for everyone? There would be no "developed" or "undeveloped" countries. There would also be more camaraderie, as people would not be divided into sections.

The final line states: 

        Imagine no possessions
        I wonder if you can

Many people can imagine no heaven or no countries, but having no possessions is scary for many people. To be able to give up material goods, things we are accustomed to and many things we love, is not an easy feat. But if we were able to, would it make the world a more equal place?

Some could argue that Lennon's words are more relevant today than they were 30 years ago. Will we ever be able to achieve the goal of world peace? Right now, I'm not sure any of us can really imagine it.

Life Is Good, This Is A Good Life

It is time to go on a living spree. Perhaps you've heard the cliche "life's too short." While this phrase's overuse is mostly contributed to the dynamic of material culture in our society today, some individuals seem to embrace this notion. One individual, cultural icon Kanye West, has made this his life's motto. In his song "Good Life," which was the third single on his third album, 2007's Graduation, Kanye tries to get his audience to see that life really is good. Kanye stresses that we tend to fixate on what is wrong in our lives when we really should be embracing the good. We tend to think that life really isn't that good because we are afraid to live. We are afraid to be present. We are afraid to become our full potential.

"Good Life" is a hip-hop/electro-hop song. Its uplifting tone and strong, charismatic beat help to develop the overall theme that life is good. However, according to Kanye, there are some specific things in life that make it good.

                Welcome to the good life!
                Where we got girls who ain't on ain't on TV
                'Cause they got mo' ass than the models
                The good life, so keep it comin' with the bottles

Kanye's use of repetition of diction and punctuated use of a rhyme scheme helps articulate that perhaps, in Kanye's world, the good life consists of attractive women and alcohol.

               Have you ever popped champagne on a plane, while gettin' some brain
               Whipped it out, she said "I never seen snakes on a plane"
               Whether you broke or rich you gotta have this
               Havin' money's not everything, not havin' is

In Kanye's ideal "Good Life," he envisions himself on a plane, with some champagne, receiving oral sex. Kanye proposes that in this lifestyle money won't make you happy, but it will afford you the outrageous opportunities that those who don't have money will never have. Kanye's use of a starting consonant pattern and variation in possession of one word helps to accentuate the outrageousness of his fantasy lifestyle.

               The good life, let's go on a living spree
               Shit, they say the best things in life are free.

Kanye flips the idea of a 'killing' spree into a 'living' spree - carefree enjoyment of what actually inspires happiness. The 'good life' has its origins in the writings of Aristotle. Aristotle contemplated the 'good life' as a result of 'virtuous living,' but somewhere along the way the phrase was appropriated to mean 'living in luxury.' Kanye takes the term back to its roots.

The best things in life are free. However, life is free. So wouldn't that equate life being the best? We are never cognizant to the fact that life is free. Kanye wants you to start living. Will you?

Us and Them: The Poetry Within the Music

Pink Floyd is known for their enthralling and poetic lyrics and psychedelic music. As an extremely progressive rock band from London, they topped charts internationally and were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Their concept album Dark Side of the Moon, conveys the disunity and fragmentation of society and analyzes human nature.

According to Laurence Perrine, poetry should broaden or deepen the reader's experience by allowing one to be present in the poem. Not necessarily moral nor beautiful, it gives us glimpses into realities we can't even dream of.

Pink Floyd's song, "Us and Them" from Dark Side of the Moon does exactly that. On the surface, it seems to simply be about the cruelty and futility of war. If we look closer, we see that war is used as an extended metaphor for society's dictators.

Us and them
And after all we're only ordinary men
Me and you
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do

The first lyrics in the song establish the us vs. them mentality in war. It is simply a matter of the "other" and a way that we justify the murder of other human beings, or "ordinary men". On a deeper level, it reflects the human experience that we are always comparing and pitting ourselves against someone else in our lives. We dissociate ourselves from this "other" when we're really in the same boat trying to live through life. Overall, this extended metaphor illustrates the self-centered mentality that most of us have.

The song later explores the powerlessness people have over their own lives.

And the general sat
And the lines on the map moved from side to side
Black and blue

The imagery of the general sending men to fight while not suffering the consequences himself puts the reader in the shoes of the common man. The reader can feel the anger and frustration with the general, especially when we see him moving miniature figurines on a map in place of human life. On a level deeper than war, one deepens the experience of feeling powerless - whether that be in the battlefield, the workplace, or in any other hierarchical situation. The use of "black and blue" conveys the battering and sickening experience of being at the mercy of a society-deemed important figure. In reality, it's one man determining the fate of thousands. One merely has to glance at our current political saga to see the real life applications.

Finally, Pink Floyd's references to those in poverty and the seemingly indifference of the person in power that follows exemplifies the speaker's disgust of inequality.

Down and out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about

"Down and out" refer to those in society who are destitute. The nonchalant tone in the following line that basically says, "Well, whatever!" to society's neglect of its citizens, its human beings, is angering and disgusting. Just these two lines convey the experience of neglect, desolation, and indifference.

We can either look to ourselves to change our faults or we can choose to ignore them and blame them on human nature.

In the White Room

The song "White Room" off of British rock "supergroup" Cream's album Wheels of Fire. In a band comprised of heavy hitters such as lead singer and bassist Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker, and legendary guitarist Eric Clapton. In a band with such strong individual members, it is a bit ironic that one of their greatest works "White Room" was written by someone outside the band.

The song was first built around the music itself. Jack Bruce wrote the music, then passed it on to his friend, famous poet Pete Brown to write the lyrics. He initially tried to write the lyrics about a sad hippie girl, but Bruce wasn't on board. Brown then looked back to an 8 page poem he had previously written, which eventually got reworked into "White Room"

The lyrics of "White Room" are certainly a question of quality over quantity. When Eric Clapton is your guitarist, you give him time to have a hefty solo. However, this means the lyrics of this song are not extensive. Nevertheless, they paint a complex picture, telling a story with beautiful undertones.
I'll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd;
Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves
The meaning of the song is hardly hidden. It details the story of a man looking around at his life after his lover leaves, and he's unsure as to whether or not she will come back. He often references "the station", which we can assume to be a train depot. A lonely crowd is an oxymoron, but it emphasizes the sadness and uncertainty the speaker is facing. At the train station, there are many people milling about, but when the train leaves the only ones left are those left behind: the lonely ones. The speaker is willing to wait though, they refuse to lose faith. The place where the shadows run from themselves is a metaphor for himself. The speaker is a shadow, and he is running from the truth that he knows deep down, that his girl isn't coming back. Again, despite being surrounded by people in the same situation, there is no comfort to be gained. They are all equally and separately lonely.
Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes
Dawnlight smiles on you leaving, my contentment
The first line here is a metaphor for tears. The silver horses are the tears, and the moonbeams are the path left behind them as they fall. Then, when the woman leaves at dawn, his contentment (her), leaves as well. It seems clear that neither of then is happy, but it is certainly not easy for her to leave. She is crying, distraught herself, yet still has the initiative to leave on her own. In hiding the meaning in metaphor, it adds to the quiet struggle both parties are in during this relationship. Clearly, they are not communicating well, and they are each suffering separately, just as the speaker suffers later in the midst of other lonely people.

The core of this song and poem's meaning is that people are nothing without others. No matter how much they may feel so, people are never alone. Through disguising meanings through metaphor, Brown emphasizes the importance of communication and compassion for people's happiness.

Roses Don't Pick Themselves

Drakes song, "Sandra's Rose" is one song containing many messages and undertones all compact into two verses that strike the reader with every word. Drake starts his first theme of being "chosen" and succeeding throughout his hardships.
"My uncle tryna change my energy with stones and crystals
But it's gon' take more than that for me to control my issues
I wasn't made for no casket or no prison cell
Every title doin' numbers like I'm Miss Adele
Sandra knows I pulled us out of a living hell
I'm the chosen one, flowers never pick themselves"
This quotation in his first verse of the song provides us a snippet of Drake's underlying theme of success through hard times. This is evidenced when he says "My uncle tryna change my engery with stones and crystals But its gon' take more than that for me to control my issues" the deeper translation of this could be interpreted that his uncle was trying to cheer him up out of his sadness or depression by buying him jewlery, but he said its going ot take a lot more than materialistic items to make him happy again. In my opinion this is where Drake starts to tell the story inside his song. Following his confession of be in a darkened state of mind Drake continues by uplifting himself saying "I wasn't made for no casket or no prison cell every title doin' numbers like I'm Miss Adell" throwing in a simile, Drake now tells us that he belives in himself and that he wont fall victim to an early death or a prison sentence and instead he will suceed and make hits like the artist, Adell who is known for her award winning music. Lastly in this quotation Drake tell us that his mother, Sandra (who the song is named after) is proud of him for his success "Sandra knows I pulled us out of a living hell" and that he was made for this life as he was "the chosen one". Drake then ties it back to the title of his song by comparing him self metaphorically to a flower saying "I'm the chosen one, flowers don't pick themselves". This last Line of the quotation brings us into the other undertone of the song which is religion/religious remarks. Some may have more knowledge on Drake than others, and for those who don't know religious remarks are very common in his songs.

As we saw the progression of Drake's moral being uplifted throughout that first quotation his happiness and confidence is on the uprise as he describes himself walking "In godly form amongst the mortal men" Looking at this, one can see that Drake now hold himself as someone of a higher power than a normal mortal man through his success that has made him this "godly" figure in use of personification. This is where another Volta occurs and Drake turns to a more religious undertone. later in his second verse Drake recites the lines,
"Church of Pentecost, Holy Spirit synagogue I don't know who's protectin' me but we hit it off "
As decribed before, Drake has now switched his theme to more religiously oriented. Drake says that someone is "protectin'" him and that they "we" are getting along in, another way of saying his success is only growing in stride with his uplifted moral.

Drake's use of personification, similies, imagery and metaphors allows for a deeper meaning and visual aid to support his lyrics. Drake has always been known for his genius in communicating messages through his songs and it is clear that with the use of these poetic devices his music has more layers as it is broken down. This is why Drake has been, and always will be one of my all time favorite artists and will continue to dominate the game.

Checking In With Mr. Tillman

"Mr. Tillman", a song on Father John Misty's album titled God's Favorite Customer, is, at its most basic level, an encounter between a hotel concierge and a customer. I would not, however, have inducted this song into the prestigious annals of the 2018-19 AP English Spotify Playlist if that was all that could be gleaned from this tune. Luckily for us, Father John Misty has packed so much more than a simple conversation into this poem. It is vital to note that the artist himself has stated that this song is autobiographical; it details actual events which have transpired, and he is the hotel guest in question. Inside these lines, there is cogent apology from the artist himself for his reckless and thoughtless behavior, an indictment of addictive substances, and a reminder of the flaws and pitfalls of our contemporary, consumerist society. Here we go:

The verses of the song are sung from the perspective of the concierge, and we are treated to a hyper-polite, sterile, almost condescending tone right from the start.

And oh, just a reminder about our policy
Don't leave your mattress in the rain if you sleep on the balcony
Okay, did you and your guests have a pleasant stay?
What a beautiful tattoo that young man had on his face.

Initially, it seems as if the concierge is worried for his guest’s well-being, giving friendly “reminders” about Mr. Tillman’s breach of hotel policy. However, a truly responsible hotel employee would have responded to the removal and damaging of property in a more serious manner, and this sort of response would actually have done more to right the irresponsible and immature actions of the guest. Instead, the concierge offers a light warning, which only motivates similar unhealthy action in the future. I would venture to say that the concierge encourages this sort of guest behavior, since it is much more profitable for the business to offer a “good time” to its guests, and then have them deal with the consequences after they’ve sobered up. Sure enough, the wily employee quickly erases the brief scolding from Mr. Tillman’s mind by drawing his attention back to the guests he entertained in his hotel room, highlighting the “beautiful tattoo” which adorned the face of one of the party-goers. Disguised beneath the smarmy hospitality, a green-eyed creature lurks, manipulating its prey and inciting exactly the response it desires from the victim.

Yet Father John Misty does not pass all of the blame onto the system which facilitates these destructive, hedonistic attitudes. He acknowledges that a large part of the onus falls on him. The chorus appears twice in the song, and is virtually identical, save for one key word which I will identify later on. In the chorus, Tillman outlines his idyllic mindset:

I'm feeling good
Damn, I'm feeling so fine
I'm living on a cloud above an island in my mind
Oh baby, don't be alarmed this is just my vibe
No need to walk around
No, it's not too bad a climb

Father John Misty’s use of hazy diction emphasizes the unhealthiness of Mr. Tillman’s disposition. Words such as island, cloud, and vibe evoke a sort of carefree, but self-jeopardizing lifestyle which afflicts many artists and creators who have attained that precarious plateau of status, and all the resources which come with that position. His half-hearted reassurances to the concierge belie deep-rooted insecurities which stimulate a further need to justify his laissez-faire attitude.

I mentioned before that the two choruses are almost, but not complete copies of each other. The last word in each chorus may, or may not be the same. Father John Misty’s vague rendition makes it nigh on impossible to distinguish climb from crime. This ambiguity lends another layer of meaning to the piece; if the last word is indeed “crime,” the entire song takes on a sense of guilt, for Mr. Tillman feels the need to defend the very legality of his actions. Whether this is a traditional or moral sense of legality is not clear, but I’d like to think the artist intentionally leaves it open for debate.

I think the plethora of dichotomies in this poem are exactly what lends it its meaning. Between defiance and guilt, confidence and insecurity, hospitality and condescension, Father John Misty lays out his apology. It is up to us to accept it.