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Analysis of Songs’ Main Topics

“La Rage”

The song La Rage by Keny Arkana explores different political and socio-economic aspects at both a national and international scope. The three main themes that can be picked from the song are politics, rage, and humanity.

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Politics

The political topic is expressed both in terms of words used and the imagery/videography that accompanies the lyrics. The artist explains that the people have so much rage due to some of the political decisions that their leaders have made. Interestingly, despite the song being French, it also considers the impact of international politics on everyday life. For instance, there is mention of Bush, the former US President, and Sharon, a former Israeli prime minister. The theme is further enhanced by the larger theme of anger that is harbored by the population. Each verse of the song has the term “rage” to indicate that the power the ruling elite has over society is tiring and unacceptable.

Several verses bring out this theme. The first verse mentions that there are many “MDPs” in the streets (Arkana, 2011). These are armed martial who are tasked with ensuring law and order in the country. It is imperative to mention that whereas the political leadership sees the MDPs as a necessity, many citizens do not feel the same way according to the song. Additionally, verse ten mentions the international aspect of political leadership. As mentioned previously, one can argue that the mention of former world leaders attracts discussions on how international politics is also perceived by locals. Verse 11 goes further to develop the selected topic by stating that the western world is still oppressing other countries. The artist sings “…for the western world still wears its colonial dress” to show how the first world countries are still undermining developing nations.

Anger/Rage

Arguably, rage or anger is the primary topic of the selected song. The singer talks about society’s anger towards various elements such as politics. However, the main focus is on what the population can do now that they have significant anger towards their leaders. The rage is driving the masses to ask questions about their future, and the future of younger generations. Several verses bring out this theme properly. The first verse highlights the fact that the people are angry as their ideas have been blocked. This premise suggests that the youth are the ones looking for a revolution as their ideas are not easily accepted by the ruling class. Additionally, the same verse states that the rage that is felt by the society was ingrained “since long ago”. The statement suggests that although the people rioting is youth, they are also not too young.

Verse eleven also brings out the issue effectively and clearly. One way it does this is by bringing in the aspect of culture and knowledge. The artist states that “…and the ancestral knowledge is not updated anymore” (Arkana, 2011) One can argue that the musician believes that the community’s history and culture are eroding for one reason or the other. Arguably, the cultural erosion can be blamed on the western nations that have infiltrated their society. Interestingly, the statement also shows that the community is angry that they are losing their identity.

Humanity

Debatably, the call for action that the song encourages is based on the fact that human rights have been violated in one way or another. The first verse of the song describes innocent people being in the middle of fires. It can be assumed that they did not start and do not know how to stop these metaphorical fires. Possibly, some of the socio-economic challenges that the people in the song are facing can be attributed to the said fires. For instance, the armed MDPs in the streets harass the population yet the people who tasked them with patrolling the streets do not care enough to be accountable for their inhumane actions. Further, the political decisions that are made, without the involvement of the larger population, affect them negatively, with a few elites profiting from their suffering.

The lyrics of the song also reveal that the children affected have grown up too fast. The artist states that “…the rage for having grown too fast when adults have stolen your childhood” (Arkana, 2011). This indicates that older generations have not been keen on the proper development and mentoring of their offspring. The issue of humanity also comes out from the fact that the singer is calling out for a revolution, which it can be assumed, will be led by the oppressed youth.

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Le Front de la Haine

The second selected song by Keny Arkana is Le Front de la Haine. The song was released in 2012 and received critical acclaim. The three selected topics/themes as per the assignment are politics, corruption, and democracy.

Politics

The first verse of the song highlights this topic well. The singer describes the fact that a leader/leader tried to convince society that fascism was the best leadership style for the country. To put the theme in context, one can describe fascism as an authoritarian style of leadership. In sense, the style is the opposite of an ideal democracy. There are several elements that fascist nations have that have also been mentioned in the song. First, such country’s employ manipulation to ensure that the citizens do not fight back. This is brought out in verse one of the song where the singer states “…manipulation won’t get you my spirit or my flesh” (Arkana, 2012). The fact that the singer includes the terms “spirit” and “flesh” in the lyrics might suggest that there is some level of torture from the local authorities. This is one of the common characteristics of a fascist regime as well.

The singer states that the song is not a call for a revolution but civil disobedience. This is documented in the first verse of the song and is complemented by the second verse that states that a real revolution has to be built slowly from the bottom up. It can be argued that these verses have brought out the topics clearly by first stating what the issue is, and then suggesting the different ways that society can resolve the issue of bad politics.

Corruption

As stated, corruption is one of the characteristics of an authoritarian regime. There are various ways in which corruption can affect a society. For example, corruption can affect the economy of a nation ensuring that there is no growth. This will have a trickle-down effect that will lead to a large percentage of the affected country’s population being poor. On the same note, corruption can lead to social, economic, and political injustices. From the song, the political injustices are well captured by the fact that the singer acknowledges manipulation and torture. Similarly, the economic injustices are explained by the issue of monarchy, which is mentioned in the second verse. The realization that the country has a monarchy also means that there are people who are considered more important than others. This can lead to both social and economic distress among the populations. Secondly, the concept of corruption has been brought out in the last verse of the song. The artist states that there is significant propaganda, slander, and lies. These are also common in fascist governments but are highly enhanced by corruption.

The singer believes that one of the reasons for a revolution or civil disobedience is the level of corruption in the country. The statement “…it is the people versus the monarchy,” (Arkana, 2012) clearly shows that there is a clear distinction between different people in the society. The call is for the “people” who are vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals in society to change their lives at any cost possible.

Democracy

It is arguable that the musician, and the society at large, are in search of democracy. This is the primary reason why they are calling out their politicians and other leaders who have personal interests at heart. The theme of democracy is highlighted in verse one, where the musician identifies a politician referred to as “fat pig, Mr. Clean” (Arkana, 2012). One can argue that the name suggests that the politician is corrupt but presents himself as “clean”. The term clean in this sense refers to not corrupt. On the same note, the term “fat pig” is an insult but can also be taken to mean that the person has benefitted immensely from his position by taking money from public coffers such that they are now fat. Debatably, this can only happen in a regime that does not support democracy. If the nation was democratic, the people would be able to remove the politician from power without having civil unrest or calls for civil disobedience and revolutions.

Arguably, a democratic nation will also protect the rights of its citizens. However, from the lyrics of the song, it is clear that human rights are not a priority for leaders. For example, the last verse states that the song is dedicated to those who do not have rights. It encourages them to stay strong and fight harder to change their lives.

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Lettre à la République

The third song, “Lettre à la République”, is by Kery James and translates to “Letter to the Republic”. The three selected topics that are described in the song are nationalism, race, and immigration.

Nationalism

The term can be simply described as the continued interest, support, and pride, of an individual in relation to his or her country. Debatably, an individual can love his or her country but disagree with the leadership. Using this argument, one can state that the musician believes that there are many people who want the best for the country but the ruling few do not understand the concept of nationalism. The first verse of the song highlights the fact that racists have built the country based on blood. This can be taken to mean that there are people who have lost their lives in the country due to political differences. The singer explains that the people who have been tormented and killed are tired of the injustices and are willing to fight for their rights.

There are two things that emerge from this argument. The first is that there are people who have built the said country but have done so using immoral and illegal ways. Can they be considered patriotic due to their contribution to developing the nation? Secondly, some people did not directly contribute to the development of the nation but have a right as citizens to either support or reject ideologies that are pushed by the ruling class. The same question applies to this second group of people. Can they be patriotic even though they did not directly build the nation? The answers to the two questions would also allow one to understand the concept of nationalism as depicted in the song.

Race

An analysis of the lyrics shows that this is the primary theme of the song. The first verse of the song states “…to all these racists with their hypocritical tolerance, who built their nation on blood” (James, 2012). The narrative means that the country has been founded by racist leaders who have ensured the death of people of color. The same verse identifies the most affected races as Arabs and Blacks. One of the interesting things that come out is the fact that the accused French leaders are also using the history of the races of Arabs and Blacks to their advantage. The artist states “… it’s you who’ve chosen to link your story to ours,” confirming this argument (James, 2012). Interestingly, the artist does not condemn the use of the Black and Arabic culture inappropriately but states that the French leaders should also be held responsible for the bloodshed as the odor of blood follows them.

The issue of race also comes out in the form of misuse of manpower. The artist suggests that the other races in the country are only used to provide cheap labor. This concept will be discussed in more detail in the next section (immigration). On the same note, the musician notes that history has been unfair to the injustices that happened to both Arabs and Blacks. This concept is described clearly both in the first and the fifth verses.

Immigration

The concept of immigration goes hand in hand with that of race. France is ideally a Caucasian country and the different races that are there today traveled from other countries. The Black community in the country is mainly made up of descants of Africans who were taken to France during the colonial times. Additionally, there are immigrants who have traveled from different parts of the world to relocate to France. This element is clearly expressed in the song in verse two. The musician mentions Senegalese and the Tirailleurs, stating that the French nation believes that African immigration has harmed their economy. The disrespect and immorality of such a feeling would ideally cause the reaction the musician has towards the nation’s leadership.

As mentioned previously, the concern of immigration is also tied to labor in the country. The musician argues that one of the reasons France tolerates immigrants is because they offer cheap labor. As explained previously, such a realization is also racial because the Blacks and Arabs are not paid the same as the Caucasian French. The issue of integration, where the immigrants are asked to live and stay in different areas also makes the immigration policy complex. The musician states that “…we don’t integrate into the reject pile, we don’t integrate into the French ghettos, penned in between immigrants” (James, 2012). There is a sense of hopelessness in the statement, however, the rapper asks people to start a revolution.

Racailles

The last selected song for the assignment is “Racailles” by Kery James. The song is largely about the political situation in France. The three themes that will be discussed in relation to the song are politics, poverty, and patriotism.

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Politics

This is the main theme of the selected song by Kery James. Therefore, each verse has some mention of the political situation of France, as seen from a minorities viewpoint. One of the key messages that come out is the issue of voting. The artist states that “…we feel like voting is merely choosing by whom we want to be cheated” (James, 2016). It can be argued that the premise suggests that the population does not believe that voting matters. This brings up two main elements that have to be discussed. The first is that the system is rigged such that whoever wins through voting might still not be declared a political leader. This denotes some level of corruption that also supports the argument that France is not an ideal democracy.

Further, the rapper notes that there is no clean politician in the country (verse two). One of the things that arise from the assumption is that the political leaders are not only incompetent but also highly corrupt. They enjoy taking from the public coffers and the country does not have a sufficient system to protect the public from such leaders. Additionally, the premise also means that people elect the wrong kind of leaders. Using the arguments presented in the song, one can argue that the Black and Arabic communities blame the Caucasian French for these failures as they are the majority.

Poverty

A community or society that has corrupt leaders will also struggle to ensure that all citizens can afford basic amenities. The lyrics of the selected song suggest that the population is poor and in misery. For example, the rapper states “…the same people live in misery, the same people eat” (James, 2016). One can argue that the statement refers to the fact that politicians are living well while the rest of the population is miserable. Debatably, whereas this analysis is general, a whole look into the theme of poverty reveals that the blame is put on Caucasian leaders. Additionally, the issue of poverty can be linked to the segregation of races. Whereas the rapper does not directly state that different races cannot interact, he states that it is extremely difficult for people of color to integrate with Caucasian French even in the ghettos.

Controversially, the rapper also gives the names of corrupt politicians who are still in office. He says “…all those I cited have been condemned, and it’s the people of the projects that they treated like the damned” (James, 2016). It is important to note that corrupt people are accused of taking from the public funds and taking advantage of their positions to advance their interests. In turn, this has contributed to poverty and misery among the vulnerable minority groups (Arabs and Blacks). The author calls for a civil awakening in verse four, which is similar to a revolution. The civil awakening, however, calls on all the people who believe in justice and human rights, not just people of color.

Patriotism

The complexity of patriotism cannot be ignored when discussing the key themes of the song. There are two ways to look at patriotism from the rapper’s perspective. The first is the issue of voting, which has been discussed in the previous sections. Ideally, patriotic citizens should always vote to determine the right leaders for the nation. However, the rapper says that the community does not believe in the voting system anymore as their votes do not count. One can, therefore, argue that the artist is not patriotic.

On the other hand, patriotism also encourages the courageous disowning of corrupt leaders, which the musician has done through his lyrics in verse four. Towards this end, therefore, James is patriotic and one can argue that he has good intentions for society. In verse six, the artist states “…you were elected for a reason, you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you do the opposite, it doesn’t even bother you” (James, 2016). One can denote the passion in the statement in addition to the fact that the public is in a position to hold the politicians accountable for their actions. It can be argued that the fact that a significant percentage of society does not do this has led to a failed nation.

References

Arkana, K. (2011). La Rage [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Arkana, K. (2012). – Le front de la haine [Video]. YouTube. Web.

James, K. (2012). Lettre à la République [Video]. YouTube.Web.

James, K. (2016). Racailles [Video]. YouTube. Web.

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