Everyone from all over listens to music, whether it is in the car, at a party, or at your workplace. People may listen to music to relieve stress or help concentrate, but some people listen to music to express their feelings. Yes everyone hears the music, but is anyone actually listening to the words of the song? Artists and musicians use the lyrics of their songs to almost always tell us some sort of story or portray some sociological theme.
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Although we may see music as just a mean of entertainment, the lyrics of the song normally tell an important story. A song that does this, for example, would be “Changes” by Tupac. Tupac Shakur addresses major sociological issues faced by African-Americans every single day. Those would include racism, stereotypes, and culture is the knowledge,values, and customs that are passed through generations (39). A person’s culture influences the person into who they become, so where they come from kinda speaks for them. Tupac’s mother sold crack, and he speaks on how it was hard raising himself without his mom much. He explains how being raised by the streets and living in the projects really can be a struggle day to day just for food in your stomach.
In the 1990’s Tupac became a huge musical influence before he was tragically shot and killed. We praise Tupac for his way of being a “poetic gangster”. Surprisingly we still listen to Shakur’s music today in 2018 just because his words tell a true story about his life. Even though we are well passed the slave period, black people just were not looked at to be as privileged as white people like they are now. The blacks were all looked at as ghetto just because of where they lived or what they drove. Stereotypes are taking an assumption or label and sticking it on everyone in a particular group of people.
We see Tupac correlating his race to his social status. In the beginning of “Changes”, Shakur says “I’m tired of bein poor, and even worse I’m black. My stomach hurts so I’m looking for a purse to snatch.” To me this is saying that crimes are more prone to happen when you are dealing with poverty or if you are black. It’s like Shakur is saying blacks never have a fair chance at making it in life, so they have to turn to stealing or whatever to put food on the table for the family. Being broke makes you do things you would never think of doing. The lines “Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares? One less hungry mouth on the welfare” is another example of how poorly they cared about the blacks. Tupac does not completely blame his own race though. In one line he says “We gotta start makin’ changes, learn to see me as a brother ‘stead of two distant strangers”. I interpreted this as him saying blacks have to cut out the hate they throw to each other, and they should all band together to get the justice and equality they all deserve. Tupac says “Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares one less hungry mouth on the welfare” trying to let people know how low down and dirty the government really us. That it is not us against each other; it is us against the government. He was not trying to take over the government by any means, but he was trying to prove inequality without a havoc. He was another Martin Luther King Jr of his time.
It later on goes down to say “pull the trigger, kill the n***a, he’s a hero” addressing police brutality against African-Americans especially males. We see this issue all too well now with the “black lives matter” and “blue lives matter” movement all over the news. “There’s war on the streets and the war in the Middle East, instead of war on poverty, they got a war on drugs so the police can bother me, and I ain’t never did a crime I ain’t have to do,” again here Shakur touches on the war on the streets with people killing other people. He compared the war on the streets to the wars in the Middle East saying his streets were as dangerous as the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said “I ain’t never did a crime I ain’t have to do,” going back to blacks not having equal chances. Tupac was just crying out for justice to all and equality for everyone, yet we still have not gotten that 20 years later. If anything has changed, it is for the worst. Tupac inspires people to stand up against unjust situations and reach out for a change. He wants everyone to band together for peace rather than fighting against one another. There is a repetitive part of the song that is saying he sees no changes, and he is just pleading that he wants a change for the better of humanity. Tupac says “lets change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live, and let’s change the way we treat each other” saying let’s change the small stuff and see the impact it has on our lives.
Changes. This is all Tupac wanted for society. Shakur wanted the end of black stereotypes so that the African American community would be granted equal opportunities as the whites. Tupac was trying to get everyone to realize what changes needed to be made to better the black communities and for them to fight back. It may not have worked but he introduced these problems first that African-Americans are facing to this day more than ever. This music video to the song gives us live snips of the problems he discusses. It includes a short video of an interview of Pac telling them he is not responsible for every black male, and he is called a thug because he came from the gutters. This video is so good, and proves the points he is making in the song. Long live Tupac Shakur, “things will never be the same”.
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