Anatomy of an Album: A Piece of Strange

cunn

The album starts out with the introlude “Where Will You Be” with the lyrics “Where will u be tomorrow, Tomorrow if it ends today”  This is saying that if you were to die tomorrow, what would you regret in your life, what would you have wish you done differently and are you living your life to your full potential.

The track “Nothing To Give” begins the story with the protagonist’s depression at the world he sees around him after getting out of jail.  The track is full of clues to the protagonist’s disappointment of the outside world.  This track is a critique of both where the protagonist is living and of the world we live in.

“When night falls and all lights off,
You’ll get robbed where I live
Crooks and robbers, villains and mobsters,
The night’s got nothing to give”

The protagonist is frustrated with this world and is felling really depressed.  He is looking for any way out which is foreshadowing what will happen next.  In the lyrics “We no longer seek light to give us power” he not only could be talking about the dark which is a metaphor for evil and the light as a metaphor for good but the light could be alluding to the drugs (he later partakes in during the tracks “Beautiful Girl” and “Hourglass”) that give the protagonist the illusion of power and control.

His frustration with the world and his life is a continued theme in the following song “Caved In” which in shown in the bridge

“I can’t hold on
I can’t hold on
But I just hold on
I just hold on”

This track also foreshadows how the father of the protagonists’ girl will react to her relationship with the protagonists and their child in the line “I’m seeing, impatient parents blaming unsuspecting children”.

Continued after the jump…

As the protagonist’s frustration continues to mount he realizes he needs someone (or something in his life).  Enter the track “Hourglass”, this is where he meets the future mother of his child, the hourglass lady.  It can also be interpreted as drugs that the protagonist is seeking.  But I believe that it is the mother as it alludes to the tracks farther in the album.  If you go by the idea that it is drugs or marijuana than there is alternate story that can be derived from the album which I will go into later.

Many people believe that “Beautiful Girl” is a track about weed which in a sense it is.  It is about both his relationship with the hourglass lady and a relationship with drugs.  Both “Beautiful Girl” and “Hourglass” have double meanings, in which one continues the plot in the album but the other shows how drugs don’t take away the pain but hide you from the truth.

“Said I won’t change you, just tame who’s within that Villain”

The interlude “Inhale” could be both the protagonist getting high or the sex which results in their child.  “Brain Cell” can be interrupted in many different ways.  In connection with the story though, the first verse talks about their child.  The 2nd verse talks about the protagonist’s teenage years growing up.  And the 3rd verse talks about jail where the protagonist was before this album starts.  On the track “Since When” he states “Niggaz fresh outta jail clothes, spittin like hells close”.  “Spittin like hells close” can also be a easter egg about how the hourglass lady’s father will end up in hell later in the album.

There are also a lot of hints to show that the protagonist while in jail found religion.

“Never Know Why” introduces both the hourglass lady’s father or their child’s grandfather and the hourglass lady’s story.  I will began with her early life in fact right after she was born.  The verse below shows that her father meet her mother and they had her (the hourglass lady) but her mother died when she (the hourglass lady) was young.  How she died is not specified, it could have been during birth or while the hourglass lady is real young.

“Just haven’t been this breathless since I met this
Woman who lept into my life when I was reckless
Mothered my blessed kid, but was destined to exit early”

The part about him being reckless is alluding to the fact that he was young and immature just like the protagonist when he fell in love and had a child.  He also states “I couldn’t take her making the same mistakes that crushed my life” in the following track ” The Gates” showing this.

Now I will go into the relationship of the hourglass lady and her father who is a racist “Ain’t even allowed visits over a child’s pigment.”  This is the ultimate struggle that the album’s plot surfaces around.  I will start with the first lines in the song “Never Know Why”, “Put her out in the cold, didn’t want her close to he/Cause his granddaughter’s different than she’s supposed to be”  which shows that the hourglass lady, who was only 16 at the time she had the baby, was thrown out of his house because she had a child with a black man (the protagonist) and had a mixed baby, “Diluted their genes, it stopped the music it seemed” and “Blatant mentions about family blood won’t leave.”  This would cause tension and a very bad relationship between the two.  “Baby is like a year and a half old now and speaking/More than I can say about that man with his child/They can’t even come face to face and share smiles.”

The second verse on “Never Know Why” by Immortal Technique is the hourglass lady’s father when he is about die, “Looking at life in retrospect, it’s hard to regret” and “Parts of the flesh wrinkle up while you start to reflect.”  He is looking back at his life and how he neglected his daughter,  “And even though nobodies life is ever perfect,
You start to wonder if all the pain was really worth it.”  There is also a great line after its hard to forget, where Technique says “Niggas talk all religious, trying to barter with death” which is alluding to the fact that the grandfather is going to “barter”, like when someone would negotiate a trade of one thing for another, to get into heaven in “The Gates.”  He could be dieing from a couple different things and there a multiple clues to what he dieing from, one being Alzheimers or if you look at it closely he could have died from a fire he was fighting, this is alluded to slightly in the track “Hellfire” if you don’t think it is just him metaphorically burning in hell.

The next track “The Gates”, talks more about his relationship with his daughter and about his life.  This is him beginning to die “Lights out, so peaceful, stressless” and he is “holding her [the hourglass lady’s mother] neckless in [his] clench fist.”  In this track you learn that he was a firefighter, “Dedicated my life to the public’s protection” or “I’ve endangered my own safety to save babies from blazes.”  Then the grandfather is at the gates of heaven trying to get in but before he does he needs to talk to the saint there.  This is where we learn about why he might be a firefighter, he could be trying to cover up the sins that he was never there for his daughter by protecting the city and saving “lives of all creeds” from fires.

“I’ve saved too many lives of all creeds
For you to paint me s a racist
I’ve endangered my own safety to save babies from blazes
Black, white, latino, even asian on occasion”

and Deacon asks “But Why So.”

The grandfather is there sentenced to hell where he is going to burn in “Hellfire.”  Now “Hellfire” can be interpreted as I said earlier as him metaphorically burning in hell or this could be how he died, you might be able to interpret that from the line below.

“Fire! too late to secure the perimeter
It’ll enter ya soul you cant control the limits of
Fire!”

If that is the case then him talking to the saint on “The Gates” is him envisioning his death and the sins he committed.

On “What’ll You Do”, the first thing you here is “What’ll you do when the people go home, What’ll you do when the show is all done”, the show is a metaphor for life.  It is saying, what will you have when your appearance or how you portray yourself is gone?  In the sense of just yourself like the first track asks, are you living your life to your full potential?  Are you happy with yourself?

In this track it also breaks down the story in a few bars (Below).  There are times during the album that the protagonist hints that his love for the hourglass girl isn’t as strong as it was and may be bound by their child.  The track that is going to one day end is their love its ran out of steam.

“Two from The Dirty met with mismatched skin
Acknowledged first that one day this track may end
When there’s no more steam in that engine
Yet hopefully clean streams be an astringent
But needs outweigh cheese tryna stay in contention
“For the love” is a hard reason to keep my life in suspension
“For the love” is a hard reason to keep my life in suspension”

The final track on the album is called “The Light”, the contrast to the dark expressed earlier in the album or the good verses evil.  And just like the first track, its saying that you need to look inside yourself and find that light that warms your soul, it could be love.

“The evil the good, before illegal was hood
We see through people but we don’t look in ourselves like we should
We try to grow in the cold, to busy shoveling snow
That we tend to forget about the light
That’s warming out soul”

Natti also explains it in the verse “Is it clearer in the mirror when you look at your exterior, In fear of ya interior voice.”  What are you like on the inside? Again, are you living your life to your full potential?  Or are you portraying yourself as something your not?

This album has so many deep meanings and concepts about life, even within each song, that I cant began to get into them all.  Each song was also beautifully crafted to relate and coincide with every other song on the album ofter with easter eggs about other parts of the story.  I will let you find those.  But as far as the different concepts go, there might be a part 2 to began to explain those.  And this is a rough draft as I continue to listen to the album and piece together new things I discover.

Anatomy of an Album: A Piece of Strange

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~ by dontsweatit on December 18, 2008.

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