"Respiration" as written by Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Tony L. Cottrell, Talib Kweli and Dante Smith....
Escúchela la ciudad respirando

The new moon rode high in the crown of the metropolis
Shining, like who on top of this?
People was tussling, arguing and bustling
Gangstas of Gotham hardcore hustling
I'm wrestling with words and ideas
My ears is pricked, seeking what will transmit
The scribes can apply to transcript, yo
This ain't no time where the usual is suitable
Tonight alive, let's describe the inscrutable
The indisputable, we New York the narcotic
Draped in metal and fiber optics
Where mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips
For profits, thirsty criminals take pockets
Hard knuckles on the second hands of working class watches
Skyscrapers is colossus, the cost of living is preposterous
Stay alive, you play or die, no options, no Batman and Robin
Can't tell between the cops and the robbers, they both partners, they all heartless
With no conscience, back streets stay darkened
Where unbeliever hearts stay hardened
My eagle talons stay sharpened, like city lights stay throbbing
You either make a way or stay sobbing
The shiny Apple is bruised but sweet and if you choose to eat
You could lose your teeth, many crews retreat
Nightly news repeat, who got shot down and locked down
Spotlight to savages, NASDAQ averages
My narrative rose to explain this existence
Amidst the harbor lights which remain in the distance

So much on my mind that I can't recline
Blastin holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can't take it y'all, I can feel the city breathing
Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening
Sigh before we die like the last train leaving

Breathin in deep city breaths, sittin on shitty steps
We stoop to new lows, hell froze the night the city slept
The beast crept through concrete jungles
Communicatin with one another
And ghetto birds where waters fall
From the hydrants to the gutters
The beast walk the beats, but the beats we be makin
You on the wrong side of the track, lookin visibly shaken
Taken them plungers, plungin to death that's painted by the numbers
With Krylon applied pressure, cats is playin God
By havin children by a lesser baby mother but fuck it
We played against each other like puppets, swearin you got pull
When the only pull you got is the wool over your eyes
Gettin knowledge in jail like a blessing in disguise
Look in the skies for God, what you see besides the smog
Is broken dreams flying away on the wings of the obscene
Thoughts that people put in the air
Places where you could get murdered over a glare
But everything is fair
It's a paradox we call reality
So keepin it real will make you casualty of abnormal normality
Killers Born Naturally like, Mickey and Mallory
Not knowing the ways'll get you capped like an NBA salary
Some cats be emceeing to illustrate what we be seeing
Hard to be a spiritual being when shit is shakin what you believe in
For trees to grow in Brooklyn, seeds need to be planted
I'm asking if y'all feel me and the crowd left me stranded
My blood pressure boiled and rose, cause New York niggas
Actin spoiled at shows, to the winners the spoils go
I take the L, transfer to the 2, head to the gates
New York life type trife the Roman Empire state

So much on my mind that I can't recline
Blastin holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can't take it y'all, I can feel the city breathing
Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening
Sigh before we die like the last train leaving

Yo, on The Amen, Corner I stood lookin at my former hood
Felt the spirit in the wind, knew my friend was gone for good
Threw dirt on the casket, the hurt, I couldn't mask it
Mixin down emotions, struggle I hadn't mastered
I choreograph seven steps to heaven
In hell, waiting to exhale and make the bread leaven
Veteran of a cold war It's Chica-I-go for
What I know or, what's known
So some days I take the bus home, just to touch home
From the crib I spend months gone
Sat by the window with a clutched dome listenin to shorties cuss long
Young girls with weak minds, but they bust strong
Tried to call, or at least beep the Lord, but didn't have a touch-tone
It's a dog-eat-dog world, you gotta mush on
Some of this land I must own
Outta the city, they want us gone
Tearin down the 'jects creatin plush homes
My circumstance is between Cabrini and Love Jones
Surrounded by hate, yet I love home
Ask my guy how he thought travellin the world sound
Found it hard to imagine he hadn't been past downtown
It's deep, I heard the city breathe in its sleep
A reality I touch, but for me it's hard to keep
Deep, I heard my man breathe in his sleep
A reality I touch, but for me it's hard to keep

So much on my mind that I can't recline
Blastin holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
How the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can't take it y'all, I can feel the city breathing
Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening
Kiss the eyes goodbye I'm on the last train leaving


Lyrics submitted by nsxdriven

"Respiration" as written by Talib Kweli Tony Cottrell

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Respiration song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentPure poetry, amazing song, good storytellin. I would explain the meaning but I'm tired, my 2nd favorite song by them.
    JoE][BoXeRon November 24, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe emcees illustrate the image of the city as a breathing entity. The very palpable prescence of all the experiences of every human being is portrayed, and the experiences are described as very callous and indifferent. It is just life breathing and existing, nothing that resembles concern for our fellow man exists only the smog, and the,
    "broken dreams flying away on the wings of the obscene".
    odnupson November 07, 2005   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI can relate to this song, being from Houston myself and having spent significant parts of my life in various parts of it and seeing people from all walks of life. I too can feel that the city is a living, breathing thing despite the atrocities that are committed on a daily basis.

    To me the relationship between the city and people is a metaphor between humanity (and/or maybe god {"like who on top of this?"}) and the individual members of humanity. In the song people treat the city as an inorganic machine ("Strength in metal and fiber optics'). However, anybody with an urban background knows the city is a living, breathing thing, ("I can feel the city breathin, Chest heavin, against the flesh of the evening"). The members of the city are slowly killing it because they treat it as a machine that has input only ignoring the reciprocal effects of their actions.

    This can be extended to how we interact as society at large. We are generally trained to make decisions that are in the best interest of ourselves or a small circle of friends and family. So when we do things for personal gain("mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips for profits", "No Batman and Robin, can't tell between the cops and the robbers, they both partners, they all heartless With no conscience") or take steps toward transforming to an elitist society (ignoring the plight and interests of the less powerful or small numbered), we are indifferent to the outward effects that these actions have on humanity at large. We are slowly killing it.

    Yet society still has life left ("chest heavin"). Just like the city, it refuses to give up.
    rcrosieron April 14, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNice one Odnups,
    I once made a presentation on the similarities between contemporary poetry and that of the beginning of the century. You'll find that Hart Crane's poem 'To Brooklyn Bridge'very much resembles these lyrics in both setting and content.
    They both refer to the intricate relations between nature (sometimes interchangeable with god), the city, and man, and the fading lines that differentiated them. The underlying message is the arrogance and indifference of man that projects its achievements as an elevation from man to 'god', while still all are subjected to the city.
    It's all a bit too complex to explain in a few lines, but metaphoricly captured rhetoric is very powerful in both 'poems'.
    "And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
    As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
    Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,--
    Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!"
    cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/…
    kcircekillahon March 25, 2008   Link
  • -1
    General CommentIt always makes me happy to stumble across another Owl! As long as you weren't in Jones, that is ;P
    MerelyAPseudonymon April 17, 2011   Link

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