Ralph Ellison The Message Meaning

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A prominent hip hop song of the 1980s, “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYMkEMCHtJ4) makes use of its lyrics to illustrate the struggles and difficulties of contemporary urban life in the 1980s. This song adheres to the first step of the process described by Ralph Ellison by “fingering the jagged edge of your brutal experience,” (Sanchez 6). Each verse describes the experience of living in an urban environment with vivid descriptions of poverty and squalor. This is demonstrated by lyrics like “Rats in the front room, roaches in the back,” or “Crazy lady livin’ in a bag,” (“The Message”). Lyrics like these, featured prominently at the beginning of the song, paint a picture for the listener right off the bat, so they are able to immerse themselves in the environment described.…show more content…
These lyrics to describe the struggle of urban life experienced by many during the 1980s also conforms to the second step of Ellison’s process of the blues by finding a near tragic, near comic voice to express that experience (Sanchez 6). This song works with that step because it takes very serious subject matter, like poverty, homelessness, and living in inferior conditions and juxtaposes it with an upbeat, catchy theme. This is in contrast with the tragic conditions of inner city life, but is lightened up with lyrics that reference soap operas, King Kong, or looking up to thugs and pimps. It can be easy to overlook these lyrics with these type of more light lyrics, which could be seen as a deliberate attempt to show how often the very serious issues of inner city life are overlooked, ignored, or taken

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