"The Instrumental" as written by and Mike Shinoda Wasalu (lupe Fiasco) Jaco....
Uhh, yeah
He just sits, and watches the people in the boxes
Everything he sees he absorbs and adopts it
Hee mimics and he mocks it

Really hates the box but he can't remember how to stop, it
Uhh, so he continues to watch it
Hopin that it'll give him somethin' that he can box with
Or how the locksmith, see the box as, locked in the box

Ain't got the combination to unlock, it
That's why he watch-es, scared to look away
'Cause at that moment, it might show him
What to take off the locks with

So he chained hisself to the box, took a lock and then he locked it
Swallowed the combination and then forgot, it
As the doctors jot it all down, with they pens and pencils
The same ones that took away his voice
And just left this instrumental, like that

And he never lies (he never lies, he never lies, uhh)
And he never lies (uhh, he never lies, he never lies, no)
And he never lies (he never lies)
'Cause he never said anything at all

He just sits, and listens to the people in the boxes
Everything he hears he absorbs and adopts it
Anything not comin out the box he blocks it
See he loves to box and hope they never stop it

Anything the box tell him to do, he does it
Anything it tell him to get, he shops and he cops it
He protects the box, locks it in a box
When he goes to sleep, but he never sleeps

'Cause he stays up to watch it, scared to look away
'Cause at that moment, it might get stolen
And that's the last of the boxes
So he chained himself to the box, took a lock and then he locked it
Swallowed the combination and then forgot, it

As the doctors jot it all down, with they pens and pencils
The same ones that took away his voice
And just left this instrumental, like that

(Anything at all..) He never lies
Uhh, and you can't tell me just who you are
You buy new clothes to hide those scars
You built that roof just to hide those stars
Now you can't take it back to the start

And you can't tell me just who you are
You burn them flows just to hide those scars
You built that roof just to hide those stars
Now you can't take it back to the start

(Anything at all.. anything at all..)
Uhh, and you can't tell me just who you are
You burn them flows just to hide those scars
You built that roof just to hide those stars
Now you can't take it back to the start

And you can't tell me just who you are
You burn them flows just to hide those scars
You built that roof just to hide those stars
Now you can't take it back to the start


Lyrics submitted by crookedteeth

"The Instrumental" as written by Wasalu (lupe Fiasco) Jaco Mike Shinoda

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Instrumental song meanings
Add your thoughts

46 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +2
    General CommentI had no idea what this was about when I first heard it, and this the early comments about the television explanation were really useful. It was kind of jawdropping to listen to it afterwards, as I started to interpret it myself. silentsoldier made some observations that are really good too, and i agree with them all the more because of how i see "daydreamin'" as a song about being an individual. (i just posted about that)

    i'll have to listen to the song and look at the lyrics considering that later on. now i'll say what i was going to, and i might repeat some stuff.

    "Heeeeee mimics and he mocks it
    Really hates the box but he can't remember how to stop, it
    Uhh, so he continues to watch it"

    That's about people who would agree that a lot of stuff on tv is garbage, but they still watch it. To put the tv interpretation in my own words, Lupe is rapping about how "life" or your identity has become so deeply embedded in what the media puts out that it is impossible to escape the box or separate life/identity from what the box says. it's a lot like the dr eckleburg scene from the great gatsby, where george wilson is so deeply entwined with a different box, symbolism, trapped underneath so many layers that it is not just part of but it forms his identity and the way he sees things.

    "Hopin that it'll give him somethin that he can box with"

    and:
    "That's why he watch-es, scared to look away
    Cause at that moment, it might show him
    What to take off the locks with"

    i relate to these lines, but to you this might sound vague and bullshitty. these lines seem like they're about reaching some kind of higher existential level, people hoping that there is more in "life" as society defines it, that this "life" will have more to come, eventually giving you the tools to be more.

    but ultimately this hope succumbs to a kind of desperate acquiescence coexisting with what is more clearly a pipe dream:
    "So he chained hisself to the box, took a lock and then he locked it
    Swallowed the combination and then forgot, it"

    "And he never lies (he never lies)
    Cause he never said anything at all"

    This to me brings to mind that he never does anything wrong because he has no position or takes no action or stand. This behavior isn't what society considers malicious or evil, but in reality is a more insidious and subtle problem. Or maybe as far as silentsoldier's interpretation, it's about not lying when you aren't "being yourself" because there wasn't much of "yourself" to begin with--"Cause he never said anything at all."


    "As the doctors jot it all down, with they pens and pencils
    The same ones that took away his voice
    And just left this instrumental, like that"

    one of the first things that i thought of when i took the tv interpretation to later listens is why this song is called "the instrumental" and what that means in the lyrics. i thought it was market researchers. the in da club video with dr dre and eminem taking notes, wearing white lab coats behind the two way glass came to mind. these researchers pay attention to what people like, pop culture. they took away his voice by determining what the box plays to begin with, and they collect all this information and knowledge, but not to use it to improve culture, just to put out more garbage to sell. they jot down what the market seems to say it wants, but by only trying to give the market more of what seemed to do well, they limit the range of mainstream products. companies aren't going to want to take big risks, bad pop culture that does well becomes distilled and magnified. by this process of jotting down what the market says, ironically marketing and advertising people do not give consumers a voice. in the end, they dictate the culture, they are the ones doing the writing that determines what it will become.

    mtv and mainstream radio is a major example of this kind of pop culture. mainstream rap today is dominated by beats and production combined with dumbed down lyrics. so the instrumental that is left behind is specifically the instrumentals of rap songs. if you didn't know already "instrumental" is the specific term for the beat only track (as opposed to the a capella vocal only track). as a result of market research, there is no voice left in the sense that it is irrelevant and does not say anything.

    from here, it seems possible that the whole song (on one level at least) is about hip hop and its mainstream. The culture--"Everything he sees he absorbs and adopts it/Heeeeee mimics," and "Anything the box tell him to do, he does it/Anything it tell him to get, he shops and he cops it." Seeing a decline and becoming frustrated with the mainstream--and he mocks it/Really hates the box but he can't remember how to stop, it. Then the rest of the first verse is about how a listener hopes that hip hop will eventually save and liberate itself (Cause at that moment, it might show him/What to take off the locks with) and because he has grown up on it and it's such a part of his identity, he doesn't want to give up on it yet (scared to look away).

    this concept could be from the perspective of a rapper as well as a listener. the rapper could have also grown up on hip hop and is seeing a decline, but doesn't know what to do about it and is passive. he would like to do something, but does not know what. he does not want to give up on hip hop but it seems like he can only either wait for the scene to magically come up with a solution or wait some kind of inspiration or discovery that allows him to change the situation himself (Hopin that it'll give him somethin that he can box with). The "combination" could refer to the combination of features that made hip hop unique. swallowing the combination and forgetting it would mean forgetting these features and not spitting that combination any more. the doctors would be market researchers as well as a&r's and other industry people who shape lyrical and album content. the combination or prescription they decide on is the one the rapper now swallows. now, what the rapper or hip hop actually says is irrelevant. he is really spoken for by the doctors of the industry and all that matters is the instrumental.

    the second verse could be about the music industry a little more explicitly. the rapper is now trapped in the system of the industry:

    "Everything he hears he absorbs and adopts it
    Anything not comin out the box he blocks it
    See he loves to box and hope they never stop it"

    "He protects the box, locks it in a box" this could mean that the rapper continues to be a part of hip hop, defending it. locking it in a box would mean locking mainstream rap in the box of the word "hip hop", as if the two are really the same. on internet forums, you'll see people say that rap is the way it is now because that's what the people want, or that nobody should dictate the definition of hip hop to the exclusion and denigration of some mainstream stuff like southern or snap. in reality, the state of hip hop today is more complex, and not the culturally laissez faire process these people think it is. I think this line, "Cause at that moment, it might get stolen" suggests this interpretation also.
    epsonstyluscon January 04, 2007   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretationin my point of view, its about addiction
    The verses are the outside human
    the chorus is the inside
    yet in the verses sometimes it relates to the inside
    by inside i mean like soul
    as lupe said
    the soul lost its voice
    it never got to say anything
    which is why it never lied
    CALVER13on February 11, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is about someone who cannot think for themselves and is dependent upon television for how to live their life.
    pjds88on October 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"You buy them clothes just to hide those scars"
    i dont think this is talking about cutting.i think it means how hes hiding what his life used to be like(mabye the poor aspect) by buying new nicer clothes to hide his past from himself and other people. And the "You built that roof just to hide those stars" is about how when he "frees" himself, he gets a big house so he cant see " the stars"(his past) ,that is always there as a reminding him.

    but a know. all good songs have plenty of ways to intuperate them
    Berhane Selassieon December 20, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentya dont overanalyze it. the song is about the media and how people hate to love it. the box is the radio/tv/magazine or the media
    darkliteon March 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit also struck me awkward that
    he said, and left this instrumental like that(and a gunshot comes out)
    it might have some relation to escaping from your fears.
    CALVER13on February 11, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn Communication research, a person is either described as Affective or Instrumental. Instrumental people express themselves and their emotions through actions instead of words. That is also how they tend to interpret the feelings and emotions of others.
    Kasiniareon May 03, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's

    "You buy them clothes just to hide those scars."

    Great song.
    hxcpandaon October 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is the best song ever, but what does "the box" mean
    maniac31on October 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is the best song ever, but what does "the box" mean
    maniac31on October 14, 2006   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain