Lyric Riffs

Feb 20, 2017

When I am shocked by my own foolishness/You say you are not as shocked/And I repeat that I am shocked by my own foolishness/You get up and leave the room

from Get Up lyrics by Xiu Xiu

What at first might sound like some sort of sick love story is actually one of the most realistic and effective odes to friendship and unconditional support. Every sentence is thick and heartfelt, filling a space left empty by minimal guitars and percussion. Jamie Stewart is stuck with self-deprecation, but the support of his best friends — his band mates — keeps him strong and alive; [LISTEN].

Feb 20, 2017

Because I’d rather play Mortal Kombat anyway, hey/I want a love like Johnny Cage/If you’re not bringing bottles I suggest you start to walk away/Bitch don’t kill my vibe

from Friend Zone lyrics by Thundercat

Leave it to a creature like Thundercat to create a love song where he talks about Mortal Kombat, the only ones missing are Princess Toadstool, Liono, and Pikachu. The childish nature is a perfect foil to the ultra cool vibes; the sexy synth, thick bass and Cats’ sweet falsetto. Nerds worldwide will rejoice everywhere, finally hearing one of their own also stuck in the dreaded friend zone.

Feb 17, 2017

What you holdin’ on, holdin’ on for?/If you wanna leave just leave/Why you wanna bite your tongue for?/The silence is killing me

from Cold lyrics by Maroon 5

The star of The Voice puts his gavel down to offer up his own interpretation of power pop. It’s all cake for him until his lady kicks him to the curb. Like the champ he is, he writhes on the ground like a worm, begging, his ex to free him from his misery. Future rolls through to lend a helping hand, but only makes him feel worse with his own tale of heartache. Two fellas getting a good cry in.

Feb 17, 2017

Forget what they say/You know how the game go/And I ain’t that nigga that’s gonna be chasing no/I know how the game go

from Roses lyrics by BJ The Chicago Kid

Sounding like a modern day Usher, BJ gives us his description of the infamous femme fatale. She’s done everything to him: played mind games, left him hanging and kicked him when he was at his lowest. But there’s still something about her that keeps him coming back, so much so that he has to put it in verse that he’ll never go back. A bittersweet ballad, that is in essence a last goodbye.

Feb 16, 2017

Goony goo goo loony cuckoo/Like Gary Gnu off New Zoo Revue,but who knew?/The mask had a loose screw! Hell, could hardly tell/Had to tighten it up like the Drells and Archie Bell

from Rhinestone Cowboy lyrics by Madvillain

Two massive stars collide and collapse into one another, creating a giant rap supernova. The Madlib beat creeps around corners and just when you think you caught up to it it vanishes into thin air like smoke. Doom brings the hammer and drops enough pop culture references in one verse to satisfy fans for a lifetime. Husky and blunted he makes rap sound easy, a verbal acrobat with moves for days.

Feb 16, 2017

Attitude, belief and determination/Are the elements that can make you stand or fall/Positive attitude, belief and determination/are the elements that make diamonds of us all

from Attitude, Belief & Determination lyrics by Martin L. Dumas Jr.

The guitar lick hits and what immediately comes to mind is Ramsey Lewis or maybe Earth, Wind & Fire. It’s neither, but instead a fellow Chicagoan named Martin L. Dumas Jr., an obscure singer songwriter who caught the same spiritual vibes as his contemporaries. Every note is a starburst of positive energy, and the lyrics are just as bright; encouraging, filled with confidence and benevolence.

Feb 16, 2017

Don’t wanna be an American idiot/Don’t want a nation under the new media/And can you hear the sound of hysteria?/The subliminal mind fuck America

from American Idiot lyrics by Green Day

Sadly, the opening track off Green Day’s ominous concept album is still relevant 12 years after its release. Cheap slogans, easy riffs and haunting pessimistic vocals feel kind of musty now, but on the few lines that didn’t undergo an inescapable anachronism, they’ve managed to find the right words to make their song an easy anthem that could motivate at least a new generation of bands.

Feb 15, 2017

Meditate away the drama or I’ma just go bananas/Life’s a beach but no Bahamas, I just wanna wear pajamas/Whole life I been fightin’ on piranhas/With katanas inside of my hand

from Wild Child lyrics by Lupe Fiasco

From trap to power pop, Lupe shows off his dexterity as an artist. The clothes fit loosely and hang in such a way that makes him a lyrical chameleon. He’s speaking to the Top 50 audience, hoping that his message of personal enlightenment will penetrate the wall of garbage that stands between him and them. It’s a bold move and one that’ll likely lead to disappointment. Strong effort nonetheless.


Feb 15, 2017

Ayy, ayy, disproportionate convictions/Especially when it come to our case (our case)/You seen the movie, they killed the nigga/Why you still wanna be like Scarface?

from NGL lyrics by Lupe Fiasco

The beat comes raining down like falling glass and the shards are piercing the skin. He’s delving deep into his psyche so he can free himself from distraction and address more pressing concerns. On the surface it’s a standard hype song, but at the center is a raging inferno. Everyone in the game is trying to be a G, but Lupe’s pointing out the inevitable outcome of such hasty dreams.


Feb 15, 2017

Goddamn, mama, they made this song for you/Said through the powder and the problems/Gotta honor my mama/So that’s what I’m tryna do

from More Than My Heart lyrics by Lupe Fiasco

No album is complete without a song for mom. Without her there is nothing, only darkness. She is his bedrock, his port in a storm and everything he’s accomplished is because of her. And because it’s for mom the beat is of course classy and tasteful, a modest and thoughtful jam with enough bump in it to appeal to mothers of all ages. It’s a heartfelt ode that captures Lupe’s main focus: love.



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