Tag Archives: analysis

Lil’ Wayne Analysis: Lyrics and Language

“Bitch, real Gs move in silence like lasagna” Get it?!  Brilliant. The ceaselessness of the allure of Wayne lies in his and his lyric’s paradoxical nature.  Just who is this guy?  What does he really stand for?  He intrigues so much with the catchy and shrewdly clever lyrics that the listeners delve to figure out the meaning of each line of his songs.  Then they begin to wonder just what it is they figured out about the song as a whole and how does each line relate to the song in its totality?  Just what is it that he is trying to say?

IN the end I think part of the allure and brilliance of his music is that on one hand he isn’t actually saying anything when you look at each song in its totality, there isn’t a clear message he is giving, he pushes spoken language and grammar  syntax and symantics to such a limit where it almost implodes on itself.  He pushes and exploits the nature of comprehension and language to explore spoken, and spoken vs written language and its structure itself.  His lyrics liberate language.  He incorporates random words and lines of thought that seem to be there simply to accomplish a rhyme or other poetic or rhythmic structure, but the amazing thing is they actually add to the content of the song.

He utilizes all kinds of figurative descriptors including onomatopoeia.  Notice the “pu” rhymes with too which illustrates how he intuitively and creatively constructs the lyrics.

got a sign on my dick that say “bad bitches only”
I don’t drink champagne, it make my stomach hurt
man I’m on that patron, fuck with me wrong and get murked
got a silencer on the gun, that bitch go “pu”

Got a mean ass swagger, my bitches do too

here the silencer could refer to the woman who is sucking his “gun” (dick) and spits the cum out making the “pu” sound.

“Suck my clip, swallow my bullets and don’t you spit uuuuuuuuuuP.”

–“Steady Mobbin’”

Here “clip” sounds similar to clit.  And a gun is an overt reference to a penis especially considering he follows by saying there are bullets (semen) coming out.  He makes the gun into a sexual object representing of ultimate masculinity and power, orders one to suck it (almost as if begging for mercy), and horrifically finishes the line, as if it’s not gruesome enough, by demanding that they don’t “spit [the bullets/come] up,” which is an overwhelmingly dominating and degrading image.

Nevertheless each of these at once random and poignant lines drifts his consciousness into other fields of thought from which he pulls subsequent lines that have a connection to the previous ones.  We get to examine the way a brain handles and operates via language (sign system) in all of its idiosyncrasies and unexpected and other times expected connections between words.  Listening to Wayne is like examining someone’s raw drifts of consciousness in real time.  This is as unexplainable as the mysteries of the way the human brain works and why it makes the connections that it does.

In some songs he delivers loving thoughts about a special girl he is in love with.  In other songs if not the consequent verses, he completely reject his capacity to love “love is in the air I put on a gas mask.”   Or even one line to the next, “This rap game, I got my hands around this motherfucker/Yeah I said game but I ain’t playin’ around this motherfucker” His contradictions reveal the complexity of his philosophy, and make him interesting—you can’t quite figure him out from what he says.  Yet it all flows naturally, there is logic and each line or verse makes sense.  As one listens to his music, one gets lost in it–in the sense that our comprehension of his words and syntax is moments behind his delivery of them, and in the sense that we are lost wondrously in the stream of conscious rhythmic delivery.  In the end, the larger meaning of parts, and the whole amount to everything and nothing in the same song.  It is at once larger than life, and trivial.  I think this is a defining characteristic of great art.  It takes you on a journey that continues to make you wonder without arriving at a definite conclusion, yet you enjoy the ride, and you feel like you’ve learned something.  But in the end whatever you were looking at can from another perspective be completely trivial.  Sort of like the way Pollock’s work can be interpreted as simply a masturbatory documentation of a moment; as nothing of substance, yet on the other hand has inspired countless interpretations and puzzled people for decades.

The biggest reason that his music is a masterpiece is its resemblance of the essence of the greatest things in this world.  It is the essence of what it means to be, and to exist.  Everything in this world is simultaneously infinitely interesting and significant, yet at the same time meaningless; (completely the opposite).  The success of this element of his music is largely attributed to his incredible natural sense of flow—which is essential for a convincing rap song.  His thoughts are merely pouring from his mind and out his mouth, and yes he permits even ones that make you wonder where they came from.  It feels as if he doesn’t even censor or edit them.  This is something that 3rd rate rappers like Drake just can’t master.

His constant contradictions and paradoxes keep us on the edge of our feet and listening and wanting to hear more.  But he does not have a clear agenda.  He doesn’t lecture and preach.  Only in his worst songs does it feel that he simply wants to literally tell us his agenda.

I don’t think it’s legitimate to dismiss his lyrics as immature, or the majority of what rappers talk about as immature or unworthy of critical contemplation and philosophical discourse.  For example, this is a big philosophical question:

I’m crazy for being Wayne, or is Wayne just crazy?
–I  Can’t Feel My Face

It’s about identity, and the ethics of perusing an identity if it is not considered normal.  He’s takes a third person point of view disassociating himself from himself in the second part of the line referring to himself by his name.

Another contemplative question:

That’s too explicit, but why you listenin’? (Set this stage on fire)

Invitation to challenge him/double meaning:

Got beef homie I was just getting hungry
When you come bitch you better bring a army (Army Gunz)

Humorous personification:

Bullet find a home in ya arteries, pardon me (Army Gunz)

In “We takin’ over” remix he talks about family (daddy, Birdman) and how loyal he is to him.   He is owes his achievement to his father/mentor/supporter: Birdman.

“Who said I’ll be the one? Just my daddy.

Hello Hip-hop, I’m home, it’s your daddy.”

In previous lines as in the majority of the song he gives praise and thanks to his daddy (Birdman), and then throws in the line above, “hello Hip-Hop, I’m home, It’s your daddy.  The genre of Hip hop has been personified as a “bitch,” by hip-hop artists, (the most famous of which was Common in “I Used to Love H.E.R.”).  So here Wayne addresses the mother, hip-hop, telling her that he has arrived and also alludes to the fact that possibly he gave birth or re-birth to hip-hop.  That it’s now his daughter, or his bitch, depending how you interpret the meaning and syntax.

Also ends the song creatively saying “my flow just grew legs and walked out,” and the music cuts out sharply surprising the listener.

These are just a few of my favorite example of his lyrics, but really there are countless others.  What sets Wayne’s lyrics apart from other rappers is that they don’t allow you to easily come to terms with what he means; they are not literal, and oftentimes they can be interpreted in various ways.


Photography and Analysis: One Chance One Life by Laura Pannack

Ahhh Photography the moment’s medium.  Where the experienced creator knows what to look for (or spontaneously discovers) and presses the shutter button when all the expressive elements have lined up and will fall apart the next moment unless he exclaims “Yes!” with the shutter button.  There’s a lot of waiting involved and figuring out what it is that you “the framer”/photographer is looking for.  Often it’s a matter of luck; being at the right place at the right time with the right equipment.  I came across Laura Pannack’s photograph today and responded immediately—I had to write about it because it was so right.

I don’t know if it is a staged photograph, but it can pass for an unstaged shot.  The piercingly determined look of the adolescent girl demands you to halt in your tracks and at least for a second admire the energy in those eyes.  Cliché perhaps.  But that proves to only be the beginning quite quickly.   Although we are positioned close to the subject, we feel her staring past us into a farther space than we inhabit, way beyond the picture frame.  We notice the tattoo that says “one chance, one life” on her skinny, pale, young arm.  She looks puzzled and in deep thought with the creases between her eyebrows.  The sunlight casts a slicing ray on her face that is dramatically interrupted by her eye, and the corners of her slightly opened mouth are fixed together from her drying lips.    She is caught in a profound moment and emotionally we, the viewers, are too; trying to figure out what she has realized or is feeling.  The perfectness of this image comes from several more elements aligning just right.   She has a piercing, which complements the tattoo, letting us know she is already experimenting with identity, her look, and philosophy of life.  Tattoos and piercings comment (among other things) on a person’s philosophy of self, the transience of time, and adventure seeking.  Her body looks like a young teenager’s but things about her could allow her to pass for a mature adult.  She has an expression of passion with her frame, and dark, straight, long hair; a sign of passion, which further frames and isolates her mind.   She has dinky kid’s bracelets as if it was what was available at the moment and she decided to just put them on just to have a bracelet that would distinguish her a little and make her somebody.  She has some rings on her finger, and all the accessories/bodily manipulations create an unsettling balance between child and young adult, innocence and corruption.  It is amazing that she is caged in the back seat of a white (color of innocence) new car.  She is waiting and ready.  She is leaning out of it, fighting its confinement.  The back seat lets us know she likely hasn’t gotten her license or doesn’t have a car, or hasn’t been granted the freedom from her parents to own a car.  She is probably 14-17 year old.  Then I noticed the blurred cigarette in her hand left burning, forgotten about for the moment.

Lastly, I see a Nike sign, (the famous “just do it” attitude) that encourages bravery and adventure (and sells a company).  This is just delicious cake with an already superb meal.  Everything adds up just right.  Lastly, what makes this image a masterpiece beside what has been mentioned is the conceptual connection between the photographer and the situation.  The “just do it” logo and the tattoo really relate to the craft of photography.  I started to think that this is not simply about the girl, but also about photography at large.  The photographer often has one chance to capture something that will not be seen again for the rest of his life; it’s an opportunity that if he misses he will wish for it to happen again, but it won’t.  Because he only has one chance.  And the nike sign says that when you are faced with a conviction; the conviction that now is the time to press the shutter button—shoot!

PS.  I don’t think what I have written limits this image, because there are further ideas left to explore such as consumerism.  Everything is so new and perfect in this image.  The new white shirt, the car, the almost product placement of the Nike sign, the literal text tattoo.  The style of photography is fairly commercial too.   These must all amount to some questions about the packaging and sale of the promise of individuality perhaps wherein there is none?