Would you begin by introducing yourself and telling something about yourself to the readers?
Sure! I go by many names on the internet, per my interests.My music persona is Terror of Emma, but I also go by Treasuring and Somearts for drawing, MyNameMyLeg for video, etc. Something about me would be that I like k-pop! The people that I met with are really nice! Mostly outside of twitter, but still!
Since you’re a k-pop fan, has it had any effect on the kind of music you make?
Well, I still do experimental EDM, I did do one pop song. It might be Korean, might be English. Depends on the type of singer.
Were you always interested in music, or is it something that you just stumbled upon?
I was always interested in music, even when I wasn’t making music. I remember my kid self in 1st-2nd grade listening to Selena Gomez and Britney Spears. Even when I tried to be a tomboy, I would also listen to music, in the form of those old “Character Theme Songs” on Youtube. Now, I listen to music, whether to shop online, ride in the car, or be submersed into my world.
Nice! Quite frankly, I do the same. So, when did you start making music and how did you get into it?
I started making music in High School as a freshman when I was done early in Graphic Arts class. I published my first song, “Boss Battle Part 2” in, I would say, 2018. Turns out, my music was popular in either my Piano class (which I sucked at) or my Graphic Arts Class, and I had my first set of fans on the first platform I published on, which was soundcloud.
That’s pretty cool. Now, what is your process of making music? Does it come naturally to you or do you prep and write first?
I guess it just comes naturally to me. I do make sure that the song sounds great; that’s a necessity. With the remixes, I think of, or search a song that I want to do a remix on. Then, I put in the beats. The beats could be similar to the song, the artist themselves, or something completely different. I then make sure it makes sense, too. Then, with the Garageband, I simply export it onto soundcloud. Otherwise on soundtrap, I would export it in an mp3 file, then distribute it on soundcloud and other sites.
Since you talked about remixing songs by other artist, who are some artists that really inspire you?
The artists that inspire me might be Daft Punk, The Fame Era of Lady Gaga, Lo-Fi (the genre) on one song, and Deadmau might be the closest inspo from an artist. As well as live shows, that too.
Internet culture. I forgot about Internet Culture.
Very cool! So what’s your ultimate goal in your music career?
The goal is to get recognized for my music, and to be appreciated. Indie, or mainstream. Also, when I’m 21, I want to have my first show live. That would be a big bonus. I would also like to collaborate with other people too, such as Billie Eilish.
That’s be a really cool collab, you have me excited. Best wishes for your career. Now you said earlier that you also do art and make videos, how do you balance it all out?
Well, I actually made art for the previous album covers when I was in school, and I also made these two album covers for “Barbie go durr” aka THE TITLE IS THE ONLY LYRIC TO THIS SONG, and Industrialized Syntonize. As for the videos, I made mashups too! MyNameMyLeg Channel
That’s awesome, but with all these various projects how do you balance your social life?
Come to think of it, I just balance it without any planning. I usually talk with friends on Discord (because of quarantine), and I also socialize with people on Twitter and underrated forums that deal with kpop.
Speaking of quarantine, I guess I’m obliged to ask you the ‘in this strange times question. How are you dealing with it?
Quite well, since I’m an introvert, and someone who has autism.
That’s nice to know. It was lovely talking with you.
Hanging by the doors, into the windows of mist
That carry your arms to me, in a moment of bliss,
Carry them like the self loathing bastard you are,
Your words don't mean shit in here!
They'll grind you and tear you and make you adhere.
You are young and you're hopeful, you want to do something noble
You think you owe it to your life, like it'll get you your prize
But you don't know of the price that you have pay, to do something in this world your way.
Speak up to people who beat us down, you gotta be some kinda clown.
I know I was - believing in the lies of the world, that once made me a god,
I believed I stood for something, I thought I could change something,
But the world is a bottle factory, molding people into it's own slavery
It will drain your thoughts out of you, make you spill the words you brew
In your head with a meaning, and exploit them to fill their billing.
You can tell people all you want, they only listen to what they want,
Nobody's interested in the truth, just package sugar-dreams for the buoyant youth.
I used to believe I stood for something, I thought I'd help them questioning
But I was just another minion, instead helping them maintain their dominion.
They took her away from me, before I could even see,
And now I lay trapped in this dungeon, forgotten like someone redundant
Nobody will mourn when I die, like nobody mourned when you said goodbye.
Run Away ye Lad, run away somewhere far from here!
Take your pretty lass' hand, they're coming to get her.
Rating – //meh..// (but do listen if you’re a fan)
Singer, songwriter, record producer, (and also an actress now) Lady Gaga is back with her sixth full-length studio album, a glittery glossy electronic pop record that has been promised to be this big Comeback of sorts for Gaga. While, the album does feel much more grandeur and elaborate in it’s scope, with loud stretched out dance pop routines and lengthy butt-thumping electro-beats, the end result is just a generic and underwhelming record that just feels like a repackaging of the old stuff.
Gaga’s career over the last few years have been a little lackluster. Coming from the pop queen sensation that she became upon her debut, her recent albums have lacked that edge and also the popularity among her fans. The only big hit Gaga has delivered in recent years, is her ‘Star is Born’ soundtrack, a movie which she starred in and earned her multiple Grammy and Oscar nominations, along with her chart topping duet with Bradley Cooper -‘Shallows”. But that was all Ally from the movie singing, it isn’t a Lady Gaga record. So, when Gaga announced this project and with it, her comeback to her glamorous image that she made for herself, fans got excited. And while Lady Gaga sure blasts out all horns here (literally), the result is quite mixed.
The album was designed and remixed right till its release with even the corona-virus pandemic affecting the direction of the album somewhat, as Gaga revealed herself. But thematically, this album is so out there and it talk about so many different things that it was hard for me follow, and its not like that the things she’s trying to say are some profound new ideas but rather cliches sold as LSD. “Earth is cancelled. I live on Chromatica,” Lady Gaga told Zane Lowe. OK, cool, but what the hell is Chromatica? According to Gaga, it is neither a fantasy nor fictional planet, but a perspective, an opportunity to re-frame pain into positivity. That said, the imagery of Chromatica is undeniably futuristic. The video for “Stupid Love” begins with a post-apocalyptic prologue: “The world rots in conflict. Many tribes battle for dominance. While the Spiritual ones pray and sleep for peace, the Kindness punks fight for Chromatica.” Again, big ideas and probably something interesting to explore through music, but when the whole theme of the song is explained in an opening exposition, followed by Gaga dancing with her minions in a short bright-pink dress to uninteresting catchy tunes, it’s hard to take the message seriously. As per traditions, there are tons of Gaga-isms sprinkled around in the album. I don’t mind them, I know that they are purposefully cheesy and I do love me some weird Gaga-ism in between songs, but then again it makes it hard for me to take the ‘big theme’ that she’s trying to convey seriously.
Chromatica is an album that takes Gaga back to her fun pop roots of her early work, and while nothing on here is quite a banger like those early albums, her experience and vulnerability gives this albums the extra edge needed. While Gaga has long represented empowerment in pop, she often acknowledges that healing can be an uphill battle, especially when faced with physical or emotional trauma. Several songs on Chromatica seem to address her ongoing struggles with depression and PTSD. “My biggest enemy is me, ever since day one,” she sings, almost robotically, in the chorus of “911.” “Every single day, I dig a grave/Then I sit inside it, wondering if I’ll behave,” she coos on the booming “Replay.” But Gaga loves a triumph-over-hardship narrative, which Chromatica offers on songs like “Rain on Me,” “Plastic Doll,” and “Free Woman.”
From a production standpoint, Gaga goes all out on this album – each song has this get-your-ass-on-the-floor beat to it that is very in Gaga’s style. But the production is just way too loud for my taste, with songs that feel like are trying to poke your heart with the bass-thumping choruses. Especially. in the song ‘Stupid Love’ – it was torture to my ears, I recommend you to not listen to that songs with your headphones on. The albums has some big features on it too from her contemporary Ariana Grande, popular South Korean group Blackpink and even Elton John – and for the most part the features are big highlight for this album. I don’t necessarily love the song with Ariana – ‘Rain with Me’ – but the songs with Blackpink and Elton John are two of my favorites here.
So, while it might not be the dreamy comeback Lady Gaga promised it is sure an improvement from her last few albums. There are good songs in there with decent beats to bob along, and considering the ties we are living – it is the perfect sugary escapism that you might need right. But if you’re a stan, you’re probably gonna like this album anyway, because it essentially takes Gaga back to her pop origins. But, what I’m more interested to see is, how Lady Gaga evolves from here in the future.
Fav Tracks: //Plastic Doll/ Sour Candy (with Blackpink)/ 911/ Sine from Above (with Elton John)//
Late night at the fortress, high,
Higher than a kite in the sky,
Surrounded by people smelling of piss and sweat
Dirty walls holding tears of it's thousand inmates.
Segregated and kept separated
Beaten and tortured until broken
Locked in these cells like animals, who don't cooperate,
Spend forever here on charges of crimes against the state.
Blades run for those who disobey,
Killing all that comes on it's way,
Chains bind them to their doom,
Going mad together in this tomb.
My mind's intoxicated, all my senses blurred
Thoughts pummel my head, bordering on the absurd
I need to get to Raven,I need to fortify her
But the visions in front me form a constant blur.
Inside the cages filled with golden canaries,
These walls hide their most priced possession,
A hundred year old bard,
With long flowing hairs and beard
Whiter than Gandalf, from the darkness appeared
Growling in a voice, strong enough to persuade even the purest
To melt even the strongest
And to cure even the sickest.
Blinded by the light, I bow down on one knee
And listen to Orpheus go on a recitation spree.
**Before I begin, since this is my first review on the blog I think I should explain my rating system here. I don’t want to use the usual star or number rating system as I’m unable to put my verdict of something I consume in numerical terms. Instead, I’ll try to rate them in terms of what I feel of them. So here’s the rating metric I’m going to use, from best to worst :
Instant / Classic
“It’s great” / worth adding to your collection.
Must listen/ see/ read if you’re a fan.
//stream it once it’s free//
//fun for the high time//
Horrendous. Piece. Of. Shit.
So i guess we’re good to go.**
THE NEW ABNORMAL – THE STROKES
Rating – “It’s great” /worth adding to your collection.
Okay, I should tell you that this is my first Strokes album. I was born in 2001, so I missed out on the early 2000s hype surrounding them. And their work since then has really been sub-par, with a really uneventful 2010s for them. But I know about them and I understand why they’re so beloved by so many. I have listened to their earlier music and I love it. So, when I heard “At the Door”, their latest single from their new album, I was super hyped. I was about to witness my first Strokes album.
And honestly I’m not disappointed. After seven years of hiatus have finally come back with an album which is possibly their best since their 2006 album “First impressions of the truth.” And what better, they have matured a lot since then, which is very evident on this project. The Strokes are known to look back at earlier periods like the eighties and pay homage to them, and while they still do that in this album, they are also looking back at something more. They are reminiscing at their early times as a band, New York from when they were young and past friendships and relationships among others. This nostalgia drives the sound of this album. The guitar riffs and over the top synths are very 80’s in here, which is very classic of the Strokes, yet they add to that sound in here. They beautifully nudge between poppy dance rock and ambient rock ballads, supported by the high pitched falsetto of Julian Casablancas and his extraordinary vocal abilities.
Lyrically too, The Strokes have matured a lot. Their ideas are more clear and easy to digest in this album. The lyrics are simple and dark, and while it might seem pretentious at some points, Julian’s delivery makes them work. The themes of the album are petty universal, so almost anybody will be able to connect to the lyrics. Also, the writing here is really witty and smart which adds to the fun of the songs. While there’s no storyline per se in the album, the overall themes connect beautifully. Each track has it’s own thing to say and they all together complete the story that the Strokes are trying to paint here. For example the opening track “The Adults are Talking” is shot at people in power or rich businessmen, followed by “Selfless” which is a rock ballad where Julian sings about an old romance, while the album ends on “An ode to the Mets” where The strokes talk about their childhood memories and give a tribute to their city – New York.
Fav Tracks: At the Door, Ode to the Mets, Bad decisions, Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus, Selfless, The Adults are Talking, Not The same anymore.
Least Fav Tracks: Why Are Sunday’s so Depressing
Overall, I loved this album. While it might not be a classic like The Stroke’s debut album “Is this It”, “The New Abnormal” is the best work they have put out in recent memory. It is great album and if you love the Strokes, you should definitely buy it and add it to your collection.
So that’s it for this, I’ll be back with another review shortly. Do let me know what you thought about the album in the comment below!
Kurt Cobain means a lot to me. Not just his music, but him as person. How does someone who’s been dead for longer than I’ve been alive, affect my life so much? I don’t know, but that’s the power Kurt had – he influenced and connected with an entire generation. Like Lars Ulrich of Metallica said “with Kurt Cobain you felt you were connecting to the real person, not to a perception of who he was — you were not connecting to an image or a manufactured cut-out. You felt that between you and him there was nothing — it was heart-to-heart. There are very few people who have that ability”
Now I don’t know what it must’ve felt like hearing the news of Kurt’s suicide on 5th April 1994 at the age of 27 (though the body was discovered three days later), but from what I’ve heard, it’s one the saddest days in rock history. I know this much, if I were alive back then I would probably lock myself in a room for the whole day and not talk to anyone. But that’s not what happened. In fact I only started to listen to nirvana’s music two years back. I had obviously heard of them and listened to smells like teen spirit, but other than that no real connection. But over the past two years they have grown to become one of my favorite bands of all time.
Now this post isn’t about nirvana’s music or a review of their entire catalog, I just wanted to share with you my love Kurt Cobain and what he means to me. I feel a lot of personal connection with Kurt, things about his early life that reflect my own. Kurt had a tough childhood, a dysfunctional family and his parents divorced when he was small. He loved comic books and would sit in his class making drawings and sketches. He developed hatred for his father as he lived with him and later his mother, whose boyfriend abused her, which really left a emotional stain on Kurt. Kurt didn’t like sports but still pretended to be interested and played with others in school. He listened to classical and punk rock songs with passion since he was a kid. He also suffered from diseases like bronchitis from a very early age. He later fell prey to chronic diseases like depression in high school and also spent a period homeless. Now, these are not reasons to love someone, but somewhere, I feel Kurt would understand my life since it’s so much similar to his. But the most important thing is he survived through all those problems and lived fearlessly, which makes me look up to him even more.
But let’s be honest we wouldn’t be talking about Kurt today if it wasn’t for his music. Nirvana was a revolutionary act. Before them, alternative music was considered underground music, only for a niche. But Nirvana made Alternative music mainstream. And thanks to them Alternative music still remains one of the top genres in terms of quality and content. Nirvana became famous with their global hit single ‘smells like teen spirit’, from their 1991 album “Nevermind”. The album also earned great reviews for them and a tour deal for two years. And in no time they became the most adored rock stars of early 90’s. Their sound was revolutionary, inspired by artists like Iggy Pop and Pixies, it made wave for a new kind of music. Their music was raw, unfiltered and loud and it always left an impact on you. They had the ability to get to you.
But let’s talk about Kurt’s lyrics for a minute. I know he said they don’t mean anything and it’s useless to try and find any deeper meaning in them. He also said what’s most important to him while writing songs are melodies, and he writes lyrics just around them. Now I don’t know, I certainly don’t more about his own music than him, but his lyrics mean so much to me. They speak to me. According to his band mates he was even obsessed over writing lyrics and spent a long time during the process. He also would often rearrange and rewrite lines while recording them in studio. Also his journals reveal his love for writing and poetry. Trust me, if you ever get a chance, read his journals. And even when he was one of the biggest stars, self doubt hadn’t left him. He often writes about feeling worthless and about his depressive periods in his journals. I find Kurt’s lyrics very similar to Sylvia Plath’s poetry. They are both simple on the surface but possess really dark themes and deep meaning in them, if you listen carefully. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the band’s third and last studio album, “In Utero”, which contains some of Kurt’s most heartbreaking lyrics ever. What makes his lyrics so emotional is that there is no bridge between the words and the man. It is raw and exposes every part of Kurt out for display. He talks to you and you talk back to him, and the words stay with you forever.
Well, now I know that this story doesn’t have a happy ending. I know about his drug addiction, I know about the controversies, I know about his destructive relationship with Courtney Love, I know about his struggles with fame and the pain it caused him, and I know that he killed himself. But I don’t want to remember all that today, that’s just the shadow of the man I love, which he couldn’t avoid any longer. It had been hanging there with him for a long time and his time had come. No, I want to remember the man who defied the shadow, the man who brought light when the sun was gone. I want to remember the man who loved to drink strawberry milk. I want to remember the man who loved making sketches of Donald duck. I want to remember the man who spoke about the poor and damaged, the man who gave them a voice. I want to remember the man who was one of the first feminists and LGBT+ rights activists. I want to remember the beautiful man who sang like an angle, and tried to make a change. I want to remember the real Kurt Cobain.
Walking through the roads of oblivion, The path leads me to gloom that’s stygian Heard someone on the way say, “Tis’ the edge of the world you’re movin’ towards” But I dunno, all I can see is fucking sand everywhere.
My legs need rest but there’s no car to hitchhike And my car broke down a long time back, The sun’s blazing hot with full glory The fucker’s trynna kill me, I know it. Its heat’s melting flesh right off my bone.
I am a dead rat being chased by a hawk. I got nothing to do now, no one to see, nowhere else to go I will die alone in here Torn and tired, snakes laying eggs inside my skull Nobody to remember me, nobody to cremate my ashes, Styx will carry me to hell completing my passage.
“So you’re gonna die just like that?” Did someone say something? Who was that? I look around me but don’t see anyone, But I swear I heard someone speak in my tongue I feel something on my hand and turned my gaze, A tiny desert lizard sits there starin’ at my face. “O lizard, was that you speaking?” “Yeah why, never heard a lizard talking?” The desert must’ve messed my mind, I’m hallucinating There’s a fucking talking lizard, and I’m starin’ at it.
“You don’t need to say anything, I know the thoughts you’re thinking, Dying alone, is that what you wished for?” ” I don’t know what I wish, but first tell who you are?” “I’m a concept inside your head, but for you that’s too absurd. So here I am in the form of something you know and understand.”
Suddenly I’m reminded of the lonely nights I spent alone in a room, The only connection I had to the living world is not one you’d assume. A lizard lived on the walls of my room, even though it didn’t pay any rent. Until now I hadn’t thought of him, I don’t even know where it went.
“But what do you want from me?” I ask the lizard. “Man, I don’t need anything from you, I’m one with the river, It’s my duty to guide wandering travelers to the next world, Because it’s only a few, who reach to the end of this world. I gave Oedipus his kingdom and married him to his mom, I helped Odysseus complete his journey and return to his home. But something’s wrong with you boy, you seem lost. Your mind’s become cloudy, you’re haunted by your past. You have become weak, you think you’ve committed a sin, You want to meet Hades, as if he’ll cure your pain.”
The lizard’s words hit me straight, I have become what I tried to escape. “O lizard, I have made a terrible mistake, What do I need to do now, to awake?”
“Be brave boy, that’s all you gotta do Wait for the opportunity and it’ll come to you. And though I have to go now, you’ll always find me here, But you mustn’t come back here soon, you must lose your fear.”
“She’s coming to get you, come on, be quick. Just remember it’s only the brave ones who make it.” The lizard disappeared before my awakening, In the distant horizon I see an old car approaching.
Before TPAB, Kendrick Lamar was the new kid on the block. Everybody had heard of him and almost everybody knew he had the potential to do something big. But he wasn’t a star yet. His previous album Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City was a critical darling and quite a big hit considering his humble beginnings, but it just wasn’t enough to get him into the mainstream rap scene. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great album and even made Kendrick famous. Heck, it was the fame he earned from his first two albums, that lead to him creating TPAB. Having trouble to deal with this newfound fame, money and cultural identity, Kendrick went to South Africa looking for inspiration. The influence of his trip on the direction of the album can be easily felt.
It’s been only five years since Kendrick released To Pimp a Butterfly (15 April, 2015), but it’s already considered to be a classic by many. And rightfully so, TPAB is one of those albums that cements your name among the legends forever. Kendrick was no more the new upcoming talent in the hip hop scene, he was one of the masters of the genre. A commercial and critical success upon it’s release, It went on to earn Lamar 11 grammy nominations, and a grammy for best rap album of the year (It lost Album of the year to Taylor Swift’s 1989 funnily). A lot of magazines called it the best album of 2015 and The Independent named it the “Album of the decade”. In short, it was huge.
Kendrick explores a lot of themes on TPAB, all of which I can’t even comprehend. It talks about subjects ranging from black history to celebrity worship. If we were to discuss all of those themes, all the literary references and musical innovations , we’ll be stuck here all day. Instead I’m gonna talk about each track individually, discuss about what I think they’re about and what they mean to me and at the end I give you my final thoughts. Sounds cool? Aight.
“No one teaches poor black males how to manage money or celebrity, so if they do achieve success, the powers that be can take it from right under them”. Kendrick Lamar has given pretty clear explanation about what’s this song is about. He makes a direct reference in the song about Wesley Snipe’s arrest at the age of 35, on the charges of tax evasion.
“But remember, you ain’t pass economics in school And everything you buy, taxes will deny I’ll Wesley Snipe your ass before thirty-five”
This is one of my favorite tracks in the album. Right from the opening you know you are in for a treat. The instrumentation is beautiful and the sampling by Kendrick is exceptional. I also love the features on this track. From George Clinton to Steven Ellison, all bring their A-game.
I also like to read this song as reference to Chaos Theory o The Butterfly Effect considering the things Kendrick talks about later in the album. It states that the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world can cause a cyclone in the other end. Kendrick compares himself to the butterfly a lot, and his little songs that can have huge meaning or effect on people at the completely other end of the globe.
“But remember, anybody can get it The hard part is keepin’ it, motherfucker”
2. For Free? (Interlude)
When I first heard heard this song I couldn’t stop laughing. I couldn’t decide if was genius or a disaster. But once I listened to it for the second time I knew it was genius. I mean the jazz instrumentation is itself sensational but combined with Kendrick’s fast flowing sarcastic lyrics – it is a masterpiece.
“This dick ain’t free You lookin’ at me like it ain’t a receipt like I never made ends meet Eating your leftovers and raw meat This dick ain’t free”
Kendrick takes a dig here at the materialistic nature of modern rappers, how they always go around flexing girls and cars. He also talks about the struggles he had to face suddenly once he became rich and famous, and how suddenly girls wanted to sleep with him now. Kendrick makes a statement about this dirty side of fame and most modern musicians seem to have accepted. The song also talks about all the dirty things money makes people do and how it affects family values and nature in Ameica.
“Oh America, you bad bitch, I picked cotton and made you rich Now my dick ain’t free.”
3. King Kunta
“The yam is the power that be (that be, that be, that be, that be, that be) You can smell it when I’m walkin’ down the street”
Let’s start this one with some background information. Kunta Kinte is a fictional character from the novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Kinte got his right foot cut off because of his attempts to escape his plantation. The way Kendrick uses yams to represent power and discrimination with the song is genius.
If we take a look at the song, you can see that Kendrick is using an easy rhyme scheme to bring the message across in a very simplistic way so everyone can understand it. He calls out the people that weren’t interested in him before he got famous and he also raps about how everyone wants a piece of his leg (reference to Kunta), that means everyone wants a piece of his money, fame or success.
“I was gonna kill a couple rappers, but they did it to themselves Everybody’s suicidal, they ain’t even need my help This shit is elementary, I’ll probably go to jail”
“What money got to do with it When I don’t know the full definition of a rap image?”
Kendrick’s past is still a part of him even though he made it out of the hood. He talks about everyone being Institutionalized and put into stereotypes. The Intro talks about What Kendrick understood of a rap image – money, hoes, clothes, and celebrity – was just part of what it means to be successful. What he didn’t understand is that one can obtain these things, but it doesn’t mean you’re entirely free from your past or societal limitations put on a person of color. You can be famous but still poor of spirit or mind. Verse 2 shows how money influences people’s actions and behavior towards other people by an example of one of Kendrick’s friends.
Institutionalized is also a metaphor foe how the music industry changed Kendrick as a person and what he thinks of it.
“And once upon a time in a city so divine Called West Side Compton, there stood a little nigga He was five foot something, God bless the kid Took his homie to the show and this is what they said”
5. These Walls
“I remember you was conflicted Misusing your influence Sometimes, I did the same”
The title has 3 different meanings. The walls of a woman, the walls of his mind and the walls of a prison cell. The song narrates Kendrick having sex with a married woman whose husband is in prison for killing one of Kendrick’s friends. Lamar views this as an act of revenge for his dead friend but he also has a bad conscience about using his power to seduce someone like mention in the song “For Free?”.
“If these walls could talk I can feel your reign when it cries Gold lives inside of you”
“Mood swings is frequent, nigga I know depression is restin’ on your heart for two reasons, nigga I know you and a couple block boys ain’t been speakin’, nigga”
So this is a very dark and personal song for Kendrick Lamar. He faces internal battles such as insecurities, self-hatred, selfishness and let-downs. He talks to himself and blames himself for things he has done or not done in the past. He also questions himself and questions who he really is.
Kendrick deals with depression and suicidal thoughts during the song, especially towards the end of it. The lyrics here are extremely beautiful and heartbreaking. You may not have faced the same situations as him but you feel Kendrick’s pain through this track.
“I cry myself to sleep Bitch, everything is your fault Faults breakin’ to pieces, earthquakes on every weekend Because you shook as soon as you knew confinement was needed”
“Alls my life I has to fight, nigga Alls my life I Hard times like, yah!”
Alright is the most successful single of TPAB. It probably even has one of the most catchiest hooks of the album (Nigga we gonna be alright). But that’s doesn’t mean the song isn’t deep. The first line itself is a direct reference from the famous 1982 novel “The color purple” which tells the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation.
‘Alright’ is like a response to ‘u’. He tells himself that he’ll be alright and he’ll get through it with God’s help. The song has an optimistic message and verse 2 introduces Lucy (Lucifer)
“And we hate po-po Wanna kill us dead in the street for sure, nigga I’m at the preacher’s door”
8. For Sale (Interlude)
“The evils of Lucy was all around me So I went runnin’ for answers Until I came home”
The 2nd Interlude of this album is about Kendrick dealing with Lucy’s temptations. She sells him all these ideas that she will fulfill all of his dreams and promises, but he knows that it is all a lie.
He also decides to spread his message through his songs instead of selling out like many other artists, which boy he does. But Kendrick doesn’t only share his ideas he makes sure the music supporting those ideas is great.
“met a little boy that resembled my features Nappy afro, gap in his smile Hand me down sneakers bounced through the crowd”
Momma refers to Africa, because that’s where he comes from, that’s where his roots are. He also went on a trip to South Africa in 2014. Lamar talks about growing as a person and fighting off Lucy’s temptations. The trip to Africa changed his view and perspective on a lot of things and he realized that he didn’t know as much as he thought he did.
“The mind of a literate writer but I did it in fact You admitted it once I submitted it wrapped in plastic Remember scribblin’ scratchin’ dilligent sentences backwards”
10. Hood Politics
“I don’t give a fuck about no politics in rap, my nigga (my nigga) My lil’ homie Stunna Deuce ain’t never comin’ back, my nigga (my nigga)”
Kendrick’s voice is at a higher pitch on this track to signify his younger self when the hood was all he knew. He tells himself just to spit lyrics for his homies and not to worry about politics at the start of the first verse. Kendrick celebrates the hood life in this song and at the same time criticises it’s shortcomings. He analyses he’s transtion to the man that he is today, and you can even sense a longing for the hood life in him.
“But that didn’t stop survivors guilt Going back and forth, trying to convince myself the stripes I earned Or maybe how A-1 my foundation was But while my loved ones was fighting a continuous war back in the city I was entering a new one.”
11. How much does a dollar cost?
“How much a dollar really cost? The question is detrimental, paralyzin’ my thoughts Parasites in my stomach keep me with a gut feeling, y’all”
In this track Kendrick runs into a homeless man at a gas station in South Africa who asks him for a dollar. Kendrick thinks that he wants the money to buy some crack as he looks like a crack addict. He starts to feel guilty about his selfishness. Later on, the homeless man claims to be God and a dollar has cost Kendrick his place in heaven.He curses Kendrick on his lack of generosity. Kendrick asks for forgiveness and is now free of Lucy and Uncle Sam.
Here Kendrick expresses his visual confusion about what to do with all the money he has earned He doesn’t want to give it away to the poor, because once he was one of them, and if he can make it even they can. Money will make them lazy and they won’t work. We wants to help them with the money he’s earned but not give it to them.
“He looked at me and said, “Your potential is bittersweet” I looked at him and said, “Every nickel is mines to keep”
12 Complexion (A Zulu love)
”Dark as the midnight hour or bright as the mornin’ sun Give a fuck about your complexion, I know what the Germans done”
Through this song, Kendrick talks about discrimination based on color. And not just discrimination among black and white, but within the people of color. Complexion is about educating society on Color-ism and telling everyone that every color is beautiful to him and that dark skin and light skin is equal.
“Call your brothers magnificent, call all the sisters queens We all on the same team, blues and pirus, no colors ain’t a thing”
13. The blacker the berry
“Everything black, I don’t want black (they want us to bow) I want everything black, I ain’t need black (down to our knees)”
This track borrows it’s name from The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life, a novel by American author Wallace Thurman, associated with the Harlem Renaissance. The novel tells the story of Emma Lou Morgan, a young black woman with dark skin.
This song deals with racialized self-hatred and racism in general. It also deals with internal problems the black community faces. Kendrick raps with an aggressive voice throughout the song and is angry about the destruction of black lives.
“You hate my people, I can tell ’cause it’s threats when I see you I can tell ’cause your ways deceitful Know I can tell because you’re in love with that Desert Eagle Thinkin’ maliciously, he get a chain then you gone bleed him”
14.You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said)
“And the world don’t respect you and the culture don’t accept you But you think it’s all love And the girls gon’ neglect you once your parody is done”
This track might be a reference to 2Pacs ‘Lie To Kick It’, I’m not sure about it. The intro introduces Kendricks mother as the initial voice. The song is about being yourself and not lying to fit in somewhere and it’s also about stereotyping people.
“Tell me before we off ya, put you deep in the coffin Been allergic to talkin’, been a virgin to bullshit And sell a dream in the auction, tell me just who your boss is”
“I done been through a whole lot Trial, tribulation, but I know God Satan wanna put me in a bow tie”
‘i’ is the complete turnaround to ‘u’. Though TPAB revolves around negative temptations and self-doubt, this song offers redemption. He found himself and is able to love himself now. This is also contrast to ‘u’ where he hated himself and couldn’t imagine loving himself. Kendrick also explains how the media wants to keep everyone down by spreading negativity. He is proud to be black and shows this by the word ‘Negus’ which means royalty in Ethiopian.
“And I love myself (The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs) I love myself (But it can do what it want whenever it want, I don’t mind) I love myself (He said I gotta get up, life is more than suicide) I love myself (One day at a time, sun gon’ shine)”
16. Mortal Man
‘Mortal Man’ is probably the most ambitious track in hip hop history. The track can be divided into three sections. The first half of it he name-checks different leaders such as Nelson Mandela or Malcolm X. This part was clearly inspired from his trip to South Africa, where he visited Nelson Mandela’s prison cell.
He describes his early self (and many others like him) as a caterpillar forced consume anything and everything in order to survive. He then realised the only way he can make it out of the streets (the cocoon) was to pimp his music, talent and beauty out to the record labels and privileged society. This metaphor was used throughout the whole album and is also the title of the album. It’s also interesting that the former name of the album was Tu Pimp A Caterpillar (2Pac).
Kendrick got the audio recordings of 2Pac’s interview in Germany when he was doing an interview himself. Kendrick was fascinated because the answers that 2Pac was giving were still relevant for today. I gotta tell you as soon as I heard Pac’s voice I got emotional. Here I was listening to one of my favorite artist talk to his idol, a legend who’s now a dead man. So let’s get to the interview with Pac. They discuss the black culture, racism, fame and image. Kendrick feels like 2Pacs spirit lives through him and the poem that continues throughout the whole album at the end of songs comes to an end as Kendrick reads out the poem to Tupac perfectly circling out the whole album. At the end when Kendrick calls out “Pac.. Pac… Pac…”, not gonna lie, I totally cried.
“The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it Its only job is to eat or consume everything around it In order to protect itself from this mad city While consuming its environment The caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive One thing it noticed is how much the world shuns him But praises the butterfly The butterfly represents the talent The thoughtfulness and the beauty within the caterpillar But having a harsh outlook on life The caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak And figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefits Already surrounded by this mad city The caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon Which institutionalizes him He can no longer see past his own thoughts He’s trapped When trapped inside these walls certain ideas take root, such as Going home, and bringing back new concepts to this mad city The result? Wings begin to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations That the caterpillar never considered Ending the internal struggle Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different They are one and the same”
I think this poem perfectly sums up the theme of To pimp a butterfly. Kendrick fully transforms into the butterfly at the end. He might have a longing towards his humble early life, but what he has is much more valuable. Sure the artist life is full of problems and mental insecurities. But as an artist he can now do things he never could earlier. He can speak to people around the globe, he can shed light on issues no one else would, he has the power to uplift the conditions of those like him and he the opportunity influence a whole new generation with his rap. But the fact that he’s a big man now, a butterfly, doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his roots or where he came from – The caterpillar still lives somewhere inside the butterfly.
Beat up on the streets, picked up from the trash. He needed some band-aid, but was too low on cash. He wanted to laugh, but went hush to avoid any clash, Though there was fire in his heart like a phoenix rising from the ash.
He trembled his way back home alone Humming this disastrous melancholic tune Until he stumbled upon a rolling stone And fell into the dark pit of unknown.
To cage a bird with fluorescent wings, Isn’t worth a try. It might hurt your feelings, But let the Neon Birds fly.
Through the mountains, night sneaked upon the sky. Dark spirits creeped inside the pit to terrify. The lone nightingale screamed out a cry, As he could feel a thousand eyes on him, trying to pry.
They trashed his soul and called him names But he didn’t care; he was too familiar of their pety little games. Deep inside a hole a new born songbird lay, Singing songs about running somewhere far away.
To cage a bird with fluorescent wings, Isn’t worth a try. It might hurt your feelings, But let the Neon Birds fly.
The city I used to call my home Seems to have gone away somewhere far. I’m looking for it everywhere Driving around in my car.
Leeches contaminated the air – Filled with mist and smoke. Mice died in the flood of blood, The smell of it all making me choke.
I drove across the bloodstream flowing downhill, A million mice died, coming underneath my wheel. I still move on though, I got no time to mourn, It’s the ill fate of the mice – they die where they’re born.
Trees taller than the mountains, go to seed, Crying in a choir, as they’re the ones who bleed. They’ve been here since the dawn of us. They’ve seen us all grow and do the dirty deeds.
A million men hung themselves from those branches, And the cowards got shot in the back from the ones in charges. The city is haunted by the ghosts of our past, Not letting them go, even though they’ve so long surpassed.
City of bones, bones of cages, Trapping souls, stinking of blood and stitches. I don’t want to be like them, dead while still living But it is my destiny, there’s no escaping.
I’m getting late, I should be going to my house But I don’t want to see my dad or his brand new spouse. I don’t want to see anyone, not my family nor a friend. None of them like me, they all just try to pretend.
I hear a voice calling me. My love, is that you speaking? I can’t remember a word that you were saying. Were you upset or was it once again all my fault? I don’t care anymore, I don’t want any more of your assault.
This city is rotten and dying bit by bit And if I don’t leave it, I’ll die along with it. I need to run away or I’ll later have to grieve, I want to tell stories, I need to find what I believe.
A bright bird hovers over the disastrous death scene, Making me realise I have my car and gas in my engine. Deep inside a hole a new born songbird lay, Singing songs about running somewhere far away.
To cage a bird with fluorescent wings, Isn’t worth a try. It might hurt your feelings, But let the Neon Birds fly.