Grinding Meat

By Miles Hirshman

MF Doom is a lyrical genius. A master of hidden meanings, he makes amazing sounding music that screams with meaning through every line. Listening to him is almost like a game, trying to point out every time that a possible double meaning has been said. His use of literary devices, rhythm, and double meanings makes his raps seem extremely poetic. That being said, let the games begin.

First off, MF Doom makes use of many literary devices to make his music, and Meat Grinder is no exception.

Hackthoo’ing songs lit, in the booth, with the best host

Doing bong hits, on the roof, in the West Coast

First off, Doom makes use of an onomatopoeia with the first word. At first, I didn’t understand what this word meant, but after looking up the lyrics it dawned on me that that word is another word for spitting. When a person spits, the sound they make often sounds like that, if you pronounce hacktooth, you can see exactly what he’s trying to say, it sounds the same as someone who is about to spit. Spitting is often used as a another term for good rapping, so in this line, Doom is saying that he’s spitting raps, in the booth( which is the studio), with the best host. The best host in this case is Doom’s producer, Madlib, who, in my opinion, is one of “the best hosts”.

Another line that I like is

Still back in the game like Jack LaLanne

Think you know the name, don’t rack your brain

Like the first line, I didn’t really understand what this line meant because of the mention of Jack Lalanne. After looking him up, it makes sense, and it’s a creative way of bragging. A common theme for older rappers is to claim how long they’ve been rapping for, and how long they have been successful.

Doom is no exception, except he does so in a way that most don’t. Jack Lalanne was a fitness instructor. The special thing about him though was that he continued to release fitness videos while he was old, which was different then most people. Jack Lalanne stayed “in the game” for a long time, in fact, he died at 96, and he was instructor until around 87. When it comes to bragging, MF Doom does it differently.

Will it “Be Alright”

Be Alright by Dean Lewis (Single) To find the full set of Lyrics : Be Alright

Poetry and Music and very similar these days, both are striving to make the reader or speaker often times feel some type of emotion or feeling. In Dean Lewis’s song “Be Alright” he is trying to do just that.

The Main theme of the song is that we can always rely on our friends or family to help us when we are disappointed or unhappy. The Main set of Lyrics that are repeated throughout are:

And my Friend said

“I know you love her, but it’s over, mate

It doesn’t matter, put the phone away

It’s never easy to walk away, let her go

It’ll be alright”

Similar to Poetry in the neoclassical period that often focused on romantic love. This song talks about how the speakers friends in this case know that the speaker is struggling and expressing that it is not easy, but you will get past it.

The Song talks about lessons that the speaker knows but still does not want to like how time heals all wounds. This is similar the the lesson or what of a poem, that eventually everything will be ok, and it just takes time. The speaker is talking to his friends the audience about his break up. Although the song does not use a lot of language devices, becised repetition the main goal of the song is to show the emotions that the speaker is feeling. The music adds to the message because it is a mix of minor chords however, there are major chords used when the speaker talks about growing and healing.

At the end of the song the repetition used is important:

It’ll be alright

It’ll be alright

It’ll be alright

It’ll be alright

It’ll be alright

The repetition used here helps to further the message that It will be alright, something that the song has been explaining the whole time.

What is a Trapeze Swinger?

Poetry and music usually come hand and hand, however, sometimes we just sing the lyrics of a song and never really appreciate or understand them. The song “Trapeze Swinger” by Iron & Wine has been one of my family’s favorites for a while; it’s a beautiful nine minute song, that is so easy to get to get lost in, but I have never really thought of the lyrics as poetic.

The song is someone speaking to a friend throughout the stages of life. The audience is never told the gender, race, or age of the speaker or the person the speaker is talking to, which is very lovely.

From analyzing the song and going deeper into the lyrics, I found a lot of devices I would find in a poem. For example, there is repetition of the line “please, remember me” at the beginning of each stanza. Whoever the speaker is talking to, he really wants them to not forget about him, and he makes that clear by repeating it.

There are also a lot of metaphors used throughout the song, but the most important metaphor is “trapeze act” and “trapeze swinger” which appears in verses 5,7, 8, and the title:

“A fleeting chance to see a trapeze
Swinger high as any savior”

“The trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last”

“A monkey and a man, a marching band
All around a frightened trapeze swinger”

There are a couple analyses, like in all poems about the meaning of the metaphors. One analysis is about how a trapeze act needs two people, and in verse 7, the artist states “but never meant to last,” meaning he could of gone through a break up and wants his significant other to remember him. Another idea in verse 8 suggests that the world is as crazy as a circus and he is just a scared trapeze swinger. There are many other ways to interpret this poem, which makes it such a interesting piece to read over and over again.

Sober Up

Sober Up” by AJR featuring Rivers Cuomo from their album The Click is a song about losing yourself in adulthood. The song evokes a feeling of innocence, and the lyrics describe someone searching for their young love and innocence that has been swept away by adult life.

The song starts with:

Hello, Hello

I’m not where I’m supposed to be

I hope that you’re missing me

‘Cause it makes me feel young

Last time I saw your face

Was recess in second grade

The song is introduced with the speaker lost in his surroundings. His one lifeline is remembering a person from his past because they remind him of happier times in his life. The connection between them has been distant for some time, yet he still yearns for it.

The second verse includes lines like:

‘Goodbye, goodbye,’

I said to my bestest buds

We said that we’d keep in touch

And we did our best

The speaker begins to give more background on the situation he was in and the situation he finds himself in now. He uses “bestest buds” to describe their old friends because they were all truly close, but their communication fell through once they all went their own ways. The song then transitions over to describing the new people in his life by saying,

All my new friends

We smile at party time

But soon we forget to smile

At anything else

The new people are just “friends” because they don’t really have a genuine, heartfelt connection. The speaker tried to fill the gap of friends with new friends, but those friendships do not last. Smiles are a way to express happiness, and when smiling around people usually means that they make you happy. The speaker only smiles with his new friends during parties, so they don’t really make him happy. 

Throughout the song the lines “Won’t you help me sober up?” and “And I want to feel something again” repeat multiple times. The speaker is calling out for help. He realizes that he is in a toxic lifestyle and reflects on the last time he was happy: his childhood. This song is not only a cry for help, it is a reminder to search for your own happiness and that it is okay to ask for help.

Meaning in the Ivy


Frank Ocean’s album Blonde has recently been named the best album of the decade by the music publication website, Pitchfork. With such poetic lyrics as in Ivy, combined with his incredibly emotional isolated vocal performances, it is not hard to see why.

Here are the full lyrics to the song:

In his song, “Ivy,” Frank Ocean opens up about a failed relationship, reportedly a sequel to a song from his previous album, “Thinkin’ Bout You”, likely detailing the trials and tribulations of Ocean’s first love. In 2012, Frank Ocean opened up to his fans in a letter on Tumblr, describing his first relationship with a man.

Without much of an introduction, Frank Ocean’s voice comes in right away with the lyrics:

I thought that I was dreamin’ when you

said you love me

Something very interesting about this song is that Frank Ocean starts right away with the chorus that is often not heard in a song until 30 or more seconds into the song. It seems that the intention of this is to convey a sense of shock when he receives this news. He sings this with a very low and quiet tone, conveying vulnerability. This immediate assertion is not only surprising to the listener but the way in a way forces the listener to think about their own past. Perrine asserts in his, “What is Poetry” that poetry is a medium that should be used when prose is not enough to convey the intended emotion. Here, the depth and complexity of emotions that Frank Ocean is feeling is not only conveyed by his tone, but by the formatting. The line breaks near the end at, “said you love me”, almost as if to convey to the reader/listener how much this line stuck with him, the separation perhaps to separate reality with a dreamlike state that he says that this statement put him in. He also utilizes hyperbole to dramatize his emotions, allowing the listener to almost feel what he is feeling.

The rest of this stanza continues with

The start of nothin’, I had no chance to prepare
I couldn’t see you comin’
The start of nothin’, ooh, I could hate you now
It’s quite alright to hate me now
When we both know that deep down
The feeling still deep down is good

Next, Frank Ocean sings, “The start of nothin’,” indicating that the relationship was ruined from the start, nothin’ used as a hyperbolic statement, almost indicating a sense of time wasted in this relationship. Ocean continues to convey his shock here when he says that he, “had no chance to prepare.” This is a very interesting and methodical way of describing a moment that is supposed to be loving between two people, indicating to the listener that the dream that he was describing before was not good. He then goes on to say, “ooh I could hate you now,”. This likely means that Frank Ocean holds some sort of resentment toward the person who told him that they loved him, almost as if that love ruined a friendship perhaps. In the rest of the stanza, Ocean contrasts the resentment that he holds with the resentment that the other person in this relationship holds toward him. He ends the stanza by repeating “deep down” from the line before when describing the nature of the feelings between the two of them. Ocean ends by summarizing the complicated feelings in this relationship, one that he is making clear should be nothing more than a friendship.

If I could see through walls, I could see you’re faking
If you could see my thoughts, you would see our faces
Safe in my rental like an armored truck back then
We didn’t give a fuck back then
I ain’t a kid no more, we’ll never be those kids again
We’d drive to Syd’s, had the X6 back then, back then
No matter what I did, my waves wouldn’t dip back then
Everything sucked back then, we were friends

In this first verse, Ocean uses figurative language in saying, “If I could see through walls,”. These walls are likely a metaphor for the facade that someone puts on when hiding their emotions. Ocean is claiming that he knows the subject of this song so well that he can tell that they are not being genuine in this romantic relationship. He then goes on to tell about how he thinks about the other person in this relationship by saying, “If you could see my thoughts, you would see our faces”. He goes on to describe a nostalgic feeling of when they were kids. Ocean even uses a voice modifier here to enhance that nostalgic feel. He describes a bittersweet feeling of being in love but also being torn between friendship and romance.

He then goes on to repeat the chorus from the beginning of the song, driving home this theme of shock, nostalgia, and bittersweetness.

In the halls of your hotel
Arm around my shoulder so I could tell
How much I meant to you, meant it sincere back then
We had time to kill back then
You ain’t a kid no more, we’ll never be those kids again
It’s not the same, ivory’s illegal, don’t you remember?

This continues the nostalgic feeling that he conveys throughout this song, but also the rotting of this relationship. Ocean asserts that this relationship was very pure and innocent. This is perpetuated by his reference to “ivory” being illegal. The purity of ivory is used in metaphor to compare to the purity in their relationship, that purity no longer existing, being “illegal”.

I broke your heart last week
You’ll probably feel better by the weekend
Still remember, had you going crazy
Screamin’ my name, the feeling deep down is good

The quickness of this bridge conveys the difference between “now” and “then”, and how he must let go of a relationship that has withered, that this relationship is nothing more than a memory.

Next, Ocean goes back again to the chorus, but with more vocal emphasis and elaboration, driving home the complexity of this song/poem.

All the things I didn’t mean to say, I didn’t mean to do
There were things you didn’t need to say
Did you mean to? Mean to
I’ve been dreamin’ of you, dreamin’ of you
I’ve been dreamin’ of you, dreamin’ of you
I’ve been dreamin’, dreaming

The outro drives home the bittersweetness of the end of this relationship, using repetition to convey indecision when it comes to the end of a relationship, and how that person and that relationship sticks in one’s mind forever.

Frank Ocean effortlessly creates poetry within his song Ivy through metaphor and repetition, representative of the complexities of a withering relationship with someone that you really care for. He completes the emotional complexity that Perrine proposes as a requisite for poetry.

What’s the Use?

Mac Miller’s “What’s the Use” in his album Swimming conveys the artist’s relationship with drugs and alcohol. The rapper died in September of 2018 of a drug overdose at the age of 26; Miller’s song portrays an internal struggle between his mind and what society tells him about the use of drugs. The song creates an experience going inside the mind of someone who is struggling from addiction to drugs.

The song starts with its chorus, being representative of Miller’s want for substances after attempting to stop; Miller’s first lines in his chorus,

You can love it, you can leave it

portrays his own opinion on drugs. Miller believes that you can either love, or leave it, and no in between; this creates a conflict within the addicts head. However, from an outsiders point of view, Miller raps:

They say you’re nothing without it

From the point of view of someone who is not caught in the cycle of addiction, it looks like a personality trait; as if that’s all Miller has to him: his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Later in the chorus, Miller raps:

I just want another minute with it, f–k a little

You can take this two ways in my opinion; 1/ He just wants to get back into it and it doesn’t matter if he just dapples in the act of consuming drugs or 2/ he wants another minute under the influence and thinks, “f–k a little” (bit I want a lot). Both of those ways show the struggle of attempting to halt an addiction to drugs. The push and pull of wanting to consume more and the trying to stop.

In his first verse, Miller says:

I’m so a-bove and beyond/You take drugs to make it up

This line references the use of psychedelics– especially the term “above and beyond”. When Miller says, “You take drugs to make it up”, he means to say that one would need to take hallucinogenics to get to his level. He later says,

Whole lotta “yes I am”/All the way with no exit plan

According to Genius, the “yes I am” is in relation to him saying “yes I am” up for consuming more. The “no exit plan” refers to his way out of addiction however, with no exit plan, he has no way out of it. The continuous metaphors of flight emphasize the effects of drugs that give the user a “high”. I know I didn’t talk a lot about the sound of the song but the actual bass throughout the song help create this melancholy feel. In addition to the actual music of the song, it also creates a full experience that the listen delves into regarding the tough cycle of addiction.

California Dreamin’

My favorite types of poems are the ones I comprehend and the ones that make me feel the emotions of the speaker. “California Dreamin'” by the Mamas & the Papas checks both of those boxes.

When I was selecting a song for this assignment, I thought about songs that were powerful and emotional. For me, “California Dreamin'” is deeply nostalgic. It reminds me of long family road trips, sitting in the backseat during the long drives to my grandparent’s house.

The song’s lyrics are also nostalgic, with the speaker longing for California on a winter day. The song describes this winter day, explaining that “all the leaves are brown / and the sky is grey.” The imagery of the day depicts the desolate feelings of winter.

The speaker also claims “I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.” A California winter is significantly different from the cold and gray winter described previously. Still, the author’s choice to use the word “safe” illustrates that the speaker’s longing for California isn’t just for the warmth of the sunshine state, but rather for the comfort of California and the comfort of home.

The lyrics repeat several times. The simplicity of the lyrics is comforting, echoing the comfortably nostalgic feelings of California that the speaker craves.

Through powerful imagery, diction, and simple lyrics, “California’ Dreaming” shares a deep longing for the comforts of home. The song’s power in making the listener share the feelings of the speaker is what classifies it as more than simply musical entertainment, but poetic art.