new generation
“New Generation” by Amanda Delara

 

“My momma would hear bombs drop
Two blocks away from her rooftop
Waiting for the day to change
She didn’t get a lot to say
Oh, they took her voice away
Mo’fuckers
We the new generation
We be running this nation
No time for graduation
She’d be living in frustration
At night she’d go to sleep
They’d be lurking in the streets
Won’t let them achieve
Separating our beliefs
We the new generation
We be running this nation
We the new generation”

There are about 7 billion people in this world. In this immense world, I’m only a speck living in a tiny portion of Earth. Among this huge population of people, empires are formed, groups at the top that have the power to save or take away lives. As a subject of an empire, I have to obey and follow the regime that everybody follows. My parents did the same. My grandparents did the same. My ancestors did the same. Although my ancestors may not have lived in the same generation or lived under the same empire, they most likely experienced a similar cyclical lifestyle as mine. There are rules we have to follow. People are obliged to live in a similar manner. Breaking the status quo and refusal to conform may lead to consequences. Most importantly, each generation followed the same routine: eat, work, sleep, and repeat. Each generation also experienced the rise or fall of an empire. With an entity such as the empire over our heads, there will no doubt be periods of violence or periods of ‘enlightenment’. The song “New Generation” portrays the cyclical lives throughout each generation and how the empire affects people’s lifestyles.

The song tells the story of three people: the mother, the father, and the speaker. The song begins with the mother. The lyrics draw an image of the mother living through a period of turbulence and implicitly implies that the violence is through the work of bigger forces (empires). As an insignificant figure living and surviving through this frustrating era, protesting is useless. What can one person do against a large organized force? The mother had no choice but to wait until either the empire fell or another empire rises from the warring. She had no choice but to wait for “the day to change”.

“Daddy would hear gunshots
Two blocks away from his rooftop
Waiting for the day to change
He didn’t get a lot to say
Oh, they took his voice away
Mo’fuckers
We the new generation
We be running this nation
He used to dream of creations
Flag it up for his dedication”

The next person mentioned in this song, the father, lived through a similar experience as the speaker’s mother. The mother heard bombs drop while the father heard gunshots. Both had their voices taken away by a more powerful entity, the empire. The difference between the mother and the father, however, is their ambition. The mother had no choice but to attempt to survive amidst the chaos while the father dreamt of opportunity, salvation from his current situation.

“Nowadays I hear bombs drop
I’m surrounded by gunshots
Now we sit in this empty space
Which way are we willing to leave our trace
We the new generation
We be running this nation
We the new generation
My people saw their world stop
Two blocks away from their rooftop
Waiting for the days to change
We don’t get a lot to say
They try’na take our voice away”

The last person mentioned in this song is the speaker. The speaker like her mother and her father lived through or is living through the empire’s whims. She hears the bombs drop, she’s surrounded by gunshots, and they (the empire) are trying to take her voice away but as the ‘new generation’, the speaker believes she has a better chance. However, if we look at the pattern in the experiences of all three mentioned in the song, forms of violence were described. Even if the speaker claims to have found a way of ending the violence, it’s only a matter of decreasing the time left until another similar event occurs. It’s rather ironic how the speaker observes the past while living in a similar environment ignorant of the fact that that is also the future, for the past, the present, and the future are all intertwined (ecstatic temporality).

The lines “We the new generation/ We be running this nation” are seen in all three verses. As if the new generation will be different in some way. That may be true in regards to certain aspects of culture and ‘progress’, but each person and each generation will inevitably be subjected to the actions of the empire they are subservient to. The famous English philosopher Thomas Hobbes once claimed that people are willing to become dominated by a sovereign because of their self-interest, for safety, in his work Leviathanbut if the people under that sovereign lose that cloak of safety, what’s preventing the people from revolting? The revolts can be on a small scale as in through articles of exposure. For example, a real historical representation of the thoughts portrayed in this song can be seen through the efforts of Zitkala-Sa, a Sioux Native American writer, musician, and activist who exposed the mistreatment of her fellow Native Americans through her “Letters” and safeguarded their culture by founding the Native Council of American Indians in 1926.

On the other hand, empires will eventually fall. We saw the great Roman Empire fall, the British Empire fall, etcetera. Everything has an expiration date (memento mori). We acknowledge this fact, yet people still try so desperately to live to their fullest despite obstructions to their peaceful life like fireflies in a jar. Why bother executing such futile actions against an entity such as time? Is it human instinct to struggle for the greatest comfort or is it due to the selfish nature of humans to always want more? What happens after humans have obtained everything they can possibly get? Consider this…in order for humans to become satiated, what will be sacrificed, or for the lack of a better phrase, at the expense of how much will humans stop their desire for more?

 

Elkmont-fireflies-shining-in-the-Great-Smoky-Mountains
Unrestrained Elkmont fireflies at Smoky Mountains National Park

PS: Check out the song! The beats are amazing and scream attitude!

 

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