On his hit 2021 Album Donda, Kanye West had several popular rap songs with lots of deep meaning behind the lyrics. One of the most prevalent tracks on this album is called Hurricane written and produced by Kanye West himself, featuring The Weeknd (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) and Lil Baby (Dominique Jones). The three artists featured in this song rap about their past experiences with certain vices, hardships, and mental struggles (of which they are not proud) and how they have escaped their past through finding God and devoting their life to Christianity. This song can be considered poetry because of the several striking lines and deep meaning in the song.

One of the most powerful segments of the song comes during Kanye West’s first verse when he says;

Sixty-million dollar home, never went home to it

Genius gone clueless, it’s a whole lot to risk

Alcohol anonymous, who’s the busiest loser?

These lines are especially powerful because they each convey a struggle that West has dealt with despite his fame and great success. The first line represents how West is unable to spend time with his family because of his job. This is especially powerful because it is coming at a time where West is going through a divorce and will likely never be with his family in the same way he used to. The second line represents West’s lack of direction in his life. He is often referred to as a lyrical and musical genius, but when he says he has “gone clueless” this represents the lack of purpose and direction in West’s life. The last line shows that West still struggled with substance abuse even when he became rich and famous. Overall West’s verse on the song represents the inevitable worldly struggles faced by everyone.

In The Weeknd’s (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) chorus he sings about how religion has saved him when he says;

I see you in 3D, the dawn is bright for me
No more dark for me, I know You’re watchin’ me
Eighty degrees, burnin’ up the leaves
Finally, I’m free, finally, I’m free
As I go out to sea, I can walk on water
Won’t you shine Your light? Demons stuck on my shoulder
Father, hold me close, don’t let me drown
I know You won’t

This final chorus contains several striking lines. In the first two lines, Tesfaye describes how God’s guidance has opened his eyes and given new meaning to life. The final two lines are debatably the most powerful of the entire song. Tesfaye describes how he has put his full trust in God. Overall Tesfaye’s verse represents rebirth and renewal through God and how God is more powerful than worldly problems.

West and Tesfaye’s verses have a very stark contrast in terms of message and meaning. But when seen in context next to each other we can see the meaning behind the juxtaposition of these two verses. West describes the hardships of being a human, and how money fails to solve these hardships, while Tesfaye describes God’s ability to solve any problem no matter how great. When combined these two messages represent West and Tesfaye’s struggles in life, they thought that riches and fame would solve these issues, but in the end, they learn that God is the answer to all of their worldly problems.

An Ode to Hypocrisy

In the song, “Rät” from her Public Void album, Penelope Scott airs her feelings of disappointment and betrayal stemming from her disillusionment with “the tech cult that is Silicon Valley.” The song, originally debuted in its stripped-down acoustic version on Tik Tok, was initially called “Elongated Muskrat” as a reference to Elon Musk, one example of the Silicone Valley scientific community that the speaker had looked up to. Through the song, Scott conveys the experience of idolizing scientists and innovation before feeling betrayed and used after being exposed to the selfishness and greed endemic among the people she had once looked up to.

While she begins the song with a whirlwind of complex words and allusions delivered at great speed, when she reaches the chorus, she slows down and puts more emphasis on each simple word. The juxtaposition gives the impression that she is initially using her education and the complex tangents she goes on to circle around her feelings. However, during the choruses, the simplified language and repetition suggests that the speaker is confronting the brutal yet simple truth of her feelings, that she was fooled and used by the people she considered heroes.

I loved you

I loved you

I loved you

It’s true

Scott also uses allusions to famous scientists in the past and in popular culture to help express her feelings, such as Nicola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Thomas Malthus, Charles Darwin, and Selmers of the video game “Night in the Woods.” For example, she sings,

I bit the apple cause I trusted you, it tastes like Thomas Malthus

Your proposal is immodest and insane

And I hope someday Selmers rides her f—–ng train

First, she references the story of Adam and Eve from the Bible, suggesting that that the person that she is talking to convinced her to do something wrong. That thing “tasted like Thomas Malthus,” a man who famously suggested that feeding the poor would be futile because it would lead them to reproduce and ultimately to more people to feed. His “scientific” ideas were used to justify a lack of assistance for the poor for many years, incorporating an example into the song of a scientist attempting to solve one of humanity’s major problems while instead callously writing off the deaths of the less fortunate as the price to be paid for the continuation of bourgeois society. The “immodest proposal” likely refers to the rebuttal to Malthus’ “A Modest Proposal”, a satire intended to counter his argument. Selmers, in “Night in the Woods”, is infuriated by the growing inequality in Silicon Valley of millionaires making millions more, while wages remain stagnant and the price of living rises. She talks about wanting to ride a train to Silicon Valley and burn it to the ground, which the singer seems to support. While the audience may not be familiar with all of the subjects Scott alludes to at first, when they are considered together, they incorporate even more stories of selfishness and pain caused by people who claim to use their minds to better the lives of others while instead disregarding those whose lives most need bettering.

Lastly, Scott uses a specific audience to make her arguments more personal. Instead of specifically naming the tech industry or the scientific community, she rages against a “you” that betrayed her after convincing her that they were going to change the world with the creations of their mind. While it is present throughout the song, the most prominent example of this is in the chorus, when she repeats that she “loved you”, but it is also displayed to effect when she sings,

So f–k your tunnels, f–k your cars, f–k your rockets, f–k your cars again

I can’t believe you tore humanity apart

With the very same machines that could have been our brand new start

And the worst part is

I loved you, I loved you, I loved you, it’s true

The listener gets the sense that the speaker is talking to a person rather than the greater community that the song is directed at and the experience of the betrayal that they are experiencing through the song feels that much more personal. By using the word “you”, she can convey the same message while simultaneously conveying the idea that a specific person broker her heart and showed their selfishness after promising her the world. The clear jab at Elon Musk in the song’s title and the references to him throughout the song also help to personalize the song because listeners can connect the ideas presented in the song with his story, especially through lines such as,

When I said take me to the moon, I never meant take me alone

I thought if mankind toured the sky it meant that all of us could go

This line seems to be a reference to Musk’s sale of commercial flights into space for the extremely wealthy and serves as another example of resources that could be put to the betterment of humanity being spent on selling one-of-a-kind experiences to the incredibly rich. The references to Musk give listeners a person to connect the song to and make the song more personal and easier to connect to as a listener.

“Rät” is a complex song completely stuffed with poetic language and meaning and these are only my favorite of the strategies that she uses to support the experience of the song, of idolizing a community and an idea that reveals it greed and selfishness, leaving the speaker feeling betrayed and used.