Was I just there?

In the breakup song Romantic Homicide, the central protagonist has already emotionally moved on. Glancing at the song’s lyrics, it’s arguable who triggered the separation; it appears more that his partner made the decision, but the singer believes it was the right one. That is clearly indicated in one phrase in particular: I don’t mean to be complacent with the decision you made, but why? These lines suggest that the choice was taken by another party. It would also explain his despair in the opening words, by which he says that he thinks the other person doesn’t care:

I don’t mean to be complacent
With the decision you made, but why?

However, d4vd here seems to address the breakup differently than most folks do in the initial stages. To have reached a stage where he had successfully processed the breakup of the relationship. He expresses two things in a way that distances the other person from him or her emotionally:

I’m scared, it feels like you don’t care
Enlighten me, my dear
Why am I still here, oh?

The two ideas mentioned above are typically two crucial steps in processing a breakup: erasing that person from our lives in order to fully accept that they are no longer a part of them, and developing natural hatred for them in order to make up for any remaining feelings of love that may still be present in our hearts. These two actions enable us to emotionally detach.from that individual and begin to rebuild our lives. That does not imply that d4vd is content with who he is. At some point later in the song, he also expresses grief, in addition to his earlier expression of fear:

In the back of my mind
You died
And I didn’t even cry
No, not a single tear

We won’t create barriers to our destiny if our self-love remains unaffected and if we continue to feel that we deserve love and will receive it. And before a breakup, we should all act in that manner. After all, you left me alone, and I won’t chase you—this is the true meaning of the lines in Romantic Homicide. You are dead to me because I despise you. I begin the reconstruction and move forward with these two ideas in mind: love will come knocking again at the appropriate moment.

How Much a Dollar Cost?

The song “How Much a Dollar Cost” is featured on Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy award winning album, “To Pimp a Butterfly.” This album dives deep into the recesses of racial oppression and materialism as well as serving as an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Songs such as “Alright” and “Hood Politics” are both notable examples of the powerful message Lamar sends, but “How Much a Dollar Cost” stands out amongst the rest.

The song focuses on a specific incident that Lamar, the speaker, found himself in at a gas station in South Africa. The song is a combination of Lamar’s internal thoughts and conflicts and an interaction with a persistent homeless man, who asked him for 10 rand (one US dollar). Throughout the song, Lamar ponders the true value of money and why people such as himself make such a big deal out of it. His questions and wonderings all contribute to a bigger, deeper question: Can money cost someone their place in heaven? The song begins with a description of the environment Lamar is in and how he feels in this specific instance. In order to convey the sense that Lamar has a feeling in his gut that something is wrong, he uses the metaphor of a parasite in his stomach.

Parasites in my stomach keep me with a gut feeling, y’all
Gotta see how I’m chillin’ once I park this luxury car
Hopping out feeling big as Mutombo

Verse 1

Parasites are well known for their detrimental effects on their hosts, who gain nothing from the parasites being attached to them. The parasites in this case are Kendrick’s sins that are feeding off of his soul, which is described as his stomach. This line very creatively and powerfully demonstrates the feeling of guilt that people get when they are aware of any wrong doing on their part. The reference to Mutombo shows the vain attitude that Lamar has at the beginning of the song, even though he was driving past many homeless and poor people. This excerpt foreshadows the following verses to come, which includes Kendrick facing the homeless man that sparks a profound internal realization.

He’s starin’ at me in disbelief
My temper is buildin’, he’s starin’ at me, I grab my key
He’s starin’ at me, I started the car, then I tried to leave
And somethin’ told me to keep it in park until I could see
The reason why he was mad at a stranger
Like I was supposed to save him
Like I’m the reason he’s homeless and askin’ me for a favor
He’s starin’ at me, his eyes followed me with no laser
He’s starin’ at me, I notice that his stare is contagious
‘Cause now I’m starin’ back at him, feelin’ some type of disrespect
If I could throw a bat at him, it’d be aimin’ at his neck
I never understood someone beggin’ for goods
Askin’ for handouts, takin’ it if they could
And this particular person just had it down pat
Starin’ at me for the longest until he finally asked
“Have you ever opened up Exodus 14?
A humble man is all that we ever need”
Tell me, how much a dollar cost?

Verse 2

In this verse, Lamar pours effort into the details of the interaction he has and sets the final verse up for a climactic ending. The repetition of the phrase “he’s starin’ at me” emphasizes the power that the homeless man had over him in that moment. Kendrick could have easily ignored this man, but something urges him to stay. He becomes intrigued and angry and expresses his desire to make the man stop what he was doing. Lamar’s thoughts are interrupted by the homeless man asking him if he has ever read Exodus 14, a biblical story that includes God choosing Moses to lead his people through the Red Sea. This describes the power that one man in an influential position can have on people that look up to them. Kendrick knows that he is a man in that position and is reminded of the importance of staying humble. This line is also the first clue that the homeless man represents God. From this point on, Kendrick starts to have the realization that seems to be a divine intervention.

Guilt trippin’ and feelin’ resentment
I never met a transient that demanded attention
They got me frustrated, indecisive and power trippin’
Sour emotions got me lookin’ at the universe different
I should distance myself, I should keep it relentless
My selfishness is what got me here, who the fuck I’m kiddin’?
So I’ma tell you like I told the last bum
Crumbs and pennies, I need all of mines
And I recognize this type of panhandlin’ all the time
I got better judgment, I know when n***a’s hustlin’, keep in mind
When I was strugglin’, I did compromise, now I comprehend
I smell Grandpa’s old medicine, reekin’ from your skin
Moonshine and gin, n***a you’re babblin’, your words ain’t flatterin’
I’m imaginin’ Denzel but lookin’ at O’Neal

Verse 3

In this section of the final verse, Lamar starts to have a realization that he is wrong in his thinking and begins to ask himself why he is getting so angry over something so small. Nevertheless, he continues to come up with excuses and recognizes that his selfishness caused him to become wealthy. At the end of this excerpt, he ironically alludes to the fact that when he was struggling himself, he would have given the man some money, which exemplifies the effect being rich has had on him. He uses another excuse of alcoholism and tries to validate his claims by remembering when his grandpa had a drinking problem. He mentions Denzel (Washington) and O’Neil (Shaquille), which is a reference to the 1998 film “He Got Game”, a film in which Denzel Washington did not take Shaquille O’Neil seriously as an actor just as Kendrick isn’t taking this homeless man seriously either. The song ends with a climactic ending that reveals the true identity of the homeless man.

And I’m insensitive, and I lack empathy
He looked at me and said, “Your potential is bittersweet”
I looked at him and said, “Every nickel is mines to keep”
He looked at me and said, “Know the truth, it’ll set you free
You’re lookin’ at the Messiah, the son of Jehovah, the higher power
The choir that spoke the word, the Holy Spirit
The nerve of Nazareth, and I’ll tell you just how much a dollar cost
The price of having a spot in Heaven, embrace your loss—I am God”

Verse 3

Lamar’s ego takes a hit at the beginning of the excerpt when the homeless man calls his potential bittersweet. Kendrick is provided with a global platform that can affect people in many positive ways, but that is tainted by his greed and lack of humility. The dialogue also alludes to another biblical verse in which Jesus decides who will enter the gates of Heaven. Kendrick has a revelation that causes a rebirth within him. He refused to lend the man a dollar before he realized that he was God incarnate. Kendrick’s unwillingness to give the man (God) a dollar costs him his spot in Heaven.

There are many possibilities as to how much a dollar truly costs. For the homeless man, a dollar meant everything. To Kendrick, a dollar meant nothing. This was a test to see whether or not Kendrick would give anything that God gave him back to those who truly needed it. This song took a situation that many people reading this are familiar with and, through the use of many powerful metaphors, made the listener contemplate how they choose to act and evaluate their true level of selflessness.

(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay

(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding in the album of The Dock of the Bay is a R&B/Soul song released in 1968. I chose this specific song as I find it pleasing to listen to but the lyrics seem intriguing everytime I listen to it.

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the Frisco Bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothin’ to live for
It look like nothin’s gonna come my way

We can see that these four lyrics in the beginning of the story tells a story of a man (perhaps the singer himself) experience loneliness and depression. It seems that he has given hope from others and in himself. Later on in the song, we are presented with a more presentable idea of what the lyrics mean in a deeper sense.

Look like nothin’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes

Sittin’ here restin’ my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone, listen
Two thousand miles, I roam
Just to make this dock my home

Here, we can see desperation and struggle. Even more so, a call for help. These lyrics are like internal thoughts and the individual is desperately trying to see the meaning of life or a use of change but decides to stay the same. It seems like he has found acceptance towards the end of the lyrics of “making this dock his home” even after trying to escape this loneliness and emptiness inside him. This may be due to having no real meaning for ones self in life and needing to find a steady pace of life in order to be content.

Sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

At the very end of the song, we are presented with the man saying “Wastin’ time.” This can come off across of being bored of life and not finding a real reason to make it exciting. This intrigues me as how deep the lyrics are despite being behind cheery tunes and the singer’s tone throughout the song. Not only do the lyrics talk about the individual being presented in the song being lonely and not content with life, we can also see him trying to change, giving hope to himself until he lost it all and went back the same path he started.