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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had this track literally on loop for a couple days, trying to decipher the meaning.  A lot of people confess they have absolutely no idea what this track is exactly about, and it is indeed hella hard to dissect completely.  There are so many layers here, it's crazy!  The song is an astonishingly lyrical tour-de-force... Lupe is performing some sort of acrobatic ballet with the English language throughout the track... bars that flow without seam, transitioning from detailed description to elaborate story to extended metaphor eloquently.  "The Emperor's Soundtrack" offers so much; it is now officially my anthem for the time being.

"The Emperor's Soundtrack" is Lupe Fiasco's equivalent to Nasir Jones's "N.Y. State of Mind." It's an even better tribute to his home than "Go Go Gadget Flow". The track tells it all.


I'm afraid, though, to put my interpretation on Rap Genius immediately, because I'm not entirely certain that all the lines I'll be tryin' to explain were correct.  There are a lot of people here with a lot of knowledge, which is why I'm going to lay out my thoughts here about the song first and see how they stack up against other people's.

You can expect bits and pieces, like a verse or two explained, from me to pop up in this thread throughout the rest of the day and even into the night, as I go to and fro.  Just know that it's comin'.  :)

LASERS!!
 

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I do agree this is pretty tough track the get, hell, I got only two lines out of this whole song and wondering what it means, but I do agree this is a lyrical tour-de-force.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
kdoggx2o00 said:
the production on this song is so powerful.
lookin' forward to your deciphering
Dan The Fiasco said:
lyrical tour-de-force, I agree
:)

I said "The Emperor's Soundtrack" is Lupe's equivalent to Nas's "N.Y. State of Mind."  And I mean.  There are some definite connections.  Lupe said he structured Food & Liquor to be similar in certain respects to Nas' debut... keep that in mind. And although "Emperor's Soundtrack" is towards the end of the album and therefore not the intro track that "N.Y. State of Mind" is, I'd bet money that Lu's goin' for Nas' state of mind on that track... Only Lupe's is actually much more encouraging.

The similarities, if you will, between both songs lies most overtly in the hooks.  Nas' chorus holds the classic line "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death," reflecting his younger days as a drug dealer when he was forced to live in a never-ending state of consciousness, of awareness... Sleeping on the job could result in death, if you weren't careful.  No slackin'.

Lu's hook holds something in a similar sense, but one that emerges much more strongly rooted in the positive: "Only fear God / Know the weapons of the weak / The weakness of the heart / And never fall asleep."  "Only fear God" reflects Lupe's devout faith in God (Allah is the same GOD as the GOD of both Judaism and Christianity).. He fears no one but GOD, and feels he owes no respect (since that's essentially what "fear" means in the Abrahamic religions when regarding GOD) to anyone else but him.  Why?  'Cause he knows that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," to paraphrase Jesus.  "Know the weapons of the weak / The weakness of the heart", Lupe says.  There's interesting double-play going on here.  Lupe is saying two things here at once.  "Weakness" is the key word here, it gets repeated twice.  Lu knows that man is, by nature, weak... The Fall of Man is a testament to that.  But he also knows that he must, in turn, keep himself strong, because that very weakness deep inside him could be used against him.  The "weapons of the weak" is, ironically, exactly what makes them weak.  They know they're weak, and they want you to be weak as well, so your potential weakness is what they will try to destroy you with. 

Lupe is aware of this, though, and, reflecting that classic Nas line, resounds "Never fall asleep."  Stay aware.  Remain on high alert.  Guard your heart... Stand your ground, or you'll fall for anything. 

Nas's powerful imagery on "N.Y. State of Mind" tells the story of a young man trapped in the hopelessness and violence of the projects.  He has to co-exist with it, and in ways has to "do what they do" in order to survive and, to his credit, find a way out of it.  Lupe did the same thing at one time, we all know, but there's awareness on this track that distinguishes it from Nas's take.  Nas' song mainly concerns himself and his own struggle to survive.  Notice on Lupe's track, though, that while he also talks about his own resolve, he is also quick to use the words "we" and "our"... Suggesting that this is not only a story about his own struggle, but that, in a way, it is a reflection and tribute to the struggle that EVERYONE, including the people in the Chi and outside it, COLLECTIVELY undergoes.  That we're ALL fighting the same fight.  And that subtle nuance is in itself a remarkable quality of Lupe's storytelling.

:) 

And that's just the hook.  Thoughts so far?
 

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Coldplay Expert said:
:)

I said "The Emperor's Soundtrack" is Lupe's equivalent to Nas's "N.Y. State of Mind."  And I mean.  There are some definite connections.  Lupe said he structured Food & Liquor to be similar in certain respects to Nas' debut... keep that in mind. And although "Emperor's Soundtrack" is towards the end of the album and therefore not the intro track that "N.Y. State of Mind" is, I'd bet money that Lu's goin' for Nas' state of mind on that track... Only Lupe's is actually much more encouraging.

The similarities, if you will, between both songs lies most overtly in the hooks.  Nas' chorus holds the classic line "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death," reflecting his younger days as a drug dealer when he was forced to live in a never-ending state of consciousness, of awareness... Sleeping on the job could result in death, if you weren't careful.  No slackin'.

Lu's hook holds something in a similar sense, but one that emerges much more strongly rooted in the positive: "Only fear God / Know the weapons of the weak / The weakness of the heart / And never fall asleep."  "Only fear God" reflects Lupe's devout faith in God (Allah is the same GOD as the GOD of both Judaism and Christianity).. He fears no one but GOD, and feels he owes no respect (since that's essentially what "fear" means in the Abrahamic religions when regarding GOD) to anyone else but him.  Why?  'Cause he knows that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," to paraphrase Jesus.  "Know the weapons of the weak / The weakness of the heart", Lupe says.  There's interesting double-play going on here.  Lupe is saying two things here at once.  "Weakness" is the key word here, it gets repeated twice.  Lu knows that man is, by nature, weak... The Fall of Man is a testament to that.  But he also knows that he must, in turn, keep himself strong, because that very weakness deep inside him could be used against him.  The "weapons of the weak" is, ironically, exactly what makes them weak.  They know they're weak, and they want you to be weak as well, so your potential weakness is what they will try to destroy you with. 

Lupe is aware of this, though, and, reflecting that classic Nas line, resounds "Never fall asleep."  Stay aware.  Remain on high alert.  Guard your heart... Stand your ground, or you'll fall for anything. 

Nas's powerful imagery on "N.Y. State of Mind" tells the story of a young man trapped in the hopelessness and violence of the projects.  He has to co-exist with it, and in ways has to "do what they do" in order to survive and, to his credit, find a way out of it.  Lupe did the same thing at one time, we all know, but there's awareness on this track that distinguishes it from Nas's take.  Nas' song mainly concerns himself and his own struggle to survive.  Notice on Lupe's track, though, that while he also talks about his own resolve, he is also quick to use the words "we" and "our"... Suggesting that this is not only a story about his own struggle, but that, in a way, it is a reflection and tribute to the struggle that EVERYONE, including the people in the Chi and outside it, COLLECTIVELY undergoes.  That we're ALL fighting the same fight.  And that subtle nuance is in itself a remarkable quality of Lupe's storytelling.

:) 

And that's just the hook.  Thoughts so far?
That's a pretty good breakdown of the hook, to be honest, nice work Coldplay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
MozoTheWander said:
That's a pretty good breakdown of the hook, to be honest, nice work Coldplay.
Thank you.  :)  I'll tackle the verses next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
SLM3 said:
I thought it was "Know the weakness of the hard" Doh!
Very clear breakdown, nice
Actually, since Lupe's accent allows for "heart" to sound like "hard", it's very possible he was going for that wordplay as well!  And it just makes it more ironic, the juxtaposition of weak and hard.  :)

Thanks!
 

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Good thoughts Coldplay, I has always seen it as Weakness of the Hard but I understood it at first as Weakness of the Heart, but you can look it both ways and get to meanings and they both fit... Lu probly realized that.
 

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Coldplay Expert said:
:)

I said "The Emperor's Soundtrack" is Lupe's equivalent to Nas's "N.Y. State of Mind."  And I mean.  There are some definite connections.  Lupe said he structured Food & Liquor to be similar in certain respects to Nas' debut... keep that in mind. And although "Emperor's Soundtrack" is towards the end of the album and therefore not the intro track that "N.Y. State of Mind" is, I'd bet money that Lu's goin' for Nas' state of mind on that track... Only Lupe's is actually much more encouraging.

The similarities, if you will, between both songs lies most overtly in the hooks.  Nas' chorus holds the classic line "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death," reflecting his younger days as a drug dealer when he was forced to live in a never-ending state of consciousness, of awareness... Sleeping on the job could result in death, if you weren't careful.  No slackin'.

Lu's hook holds something in a similar sense, but one that emerges much more strongly rooted in the positive: "Only fear God / Know the weapons of the weak / The weakness of the heart / And never fall asleep."  "Only fear God" reflects Lupe's devout faith in God (Allah is the same GOD as the GOD of both Judaism and Christianity).. He fears no one but GOD, and feels he owes no respect (since that's essentially what "fear" means in the Abrahamic religions when regarding GOD) to anyone else but him.  Why?  'Cause he knows that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," to paraphrase Jesus.  "Know the weapons of the weak / The weakness of the heart", Lupe says.  There's interesting double-play going on here.  Lupe is saying two things here at once.  "Weakness" is the key word here, it gets repeated twice.  Lu knows that man is, by nature, weak... The Fall of Man is a testament to that.  But he also knows that he must, in turn, keep himself strong, because that very weakness deep inside him could be used against him.  The "weapons of the weak" is, ironically, exactly what makes them weak.  They know they're weak, and they want you to be weak as well, so your potential weakness is what they will try to destroy you with. 

Lupe is aware of this, though, and, reflecting that classic Nas line, resounds "Never fall asleep."  Stay aware.  Remain on high alert.  Guard your heart... Stand your ground, or you'll fall for anything. 

Nas's powerful imagery on "N.Y. State of Mind" tells the story of a young man trapped in the hopelessness and violence of the projects.  He has to co-exist with it, and in ways has to "do what they do" in order to survive and, to his credit, find a way out of it.  Lupe did the same thing at one time, we all know, but there's awareness on this track that distinguishes it from Nas's take.  Nas' song mainly concerns himself and his own struggle to survive.  Notice on Lupe's track, though, that while he also talks about his own resolve, he is also quick to use the words "we" and "our"... Suggesting that this is not only a story about his own struggle, but that, in a way, it is a reflection and tribute to the struggle that EVERYONE, including the people in the Chi and outside it, COLLECTIVELY undergoes.  That we're ALL fighting the same fight.  And that subtle nuance is in itself a remarkable quality of Lupe's storytelling.

:) 

And that's just the hook.  Thoughts so far?
the man never ceases to amaze me
 
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