"Dance Or Die" as written by Saul Williams, Kellis Parker, Janelle Robinson, Nathaniel Irvin and Charles Joseph....
Cyborg, android, d-boy, decoy, water, wisdom
Tightrope, vision, insight, stronghold, heartless
Ice cold, mystery, mastery, solar, battery

Some will pull the gun because they want to be stars
Snatching up your life into the blink of an eye
And if you see your cloning on a street walking by
Keep you running for your life cause only one will survive
War is in the streets and it's an eye for an eye
Run on for your life or you can dance you can die
She's praying in the sand like she's the last samurai
It's a stick up stick up and a pick up pick up

Telling lies and telling lies will put your face on fire
Run and tell your friends to never dream, never win
Ghettos keep a crying out to streets full of zombies
Kids are killing kids and then the kids join the army
Rising and a waking, yes sir here comes the sun
March into the war and with the kick of the drum
The wiser simians have got the bombs and the guns
So you might as well keep dancing if you're not gonna run

A long long way to find the one
We'll keep on dancing 'til she comes
These dreams are forever
Oh these dreams are forever
And if you wanna wake the sun
Just keep on marching to the drums
These dreams are forever
Oh these dreams are forever

Now I'm not saying it's better to bailar
You can pull the trigger or you can build you an ark
My words are rather kind you keep them held in contempt
Looking for a nine and then a droid you can tempt
Zombie, zombie, zombie, where do dreams come from?
A little bird is chirping and she's singing a song
She's shaking 'em and waking 'em and giving 'em mas
As the clock tick tocks and the bodies drop

I'm gonna lay myself so far way down right in your chops
Modern day example of the wolf vs flock
Freedom necessary and it's by any means
Frozen they were stolen all the kings and queens
Sudanese and congolese who put the roll in the rock
From here to sudan, metropolis to iraq
It's a minute to the dawn and yet the sun ain't back
It's a war in all the stress and yes freaks will dance or die

A long long way to find the one
We'll keep on dancing 'til she comes
These dreams are forever
Oh these dreams are forever
And if you wanna wake the sun
Just keep on marching to the drums
These dreams are forever
Oh these dreams are forever

Angel, blossom, gunshot, dodging, dream, bright, beat
Light, breathe, live, help, give, focus, trance, wake up, dance!

I'm praying for the man sitting without much time
May he understand the clock will never rewind
Wisen him and sharpen him and give him a motto
Hate no more, said he must hate no more
You see the daylight comes into the kingdom
But the kingdom's full of ignorant men
Just keep rebelling away, you gotta dream it away
Because the weatherman you seein' ain't creating the weather

This man wants to see another jubilation
And that man wants us in emancipation
And then there is the man who wants a stronger nation
You see we really got to and I think that we ought to
Protect the mind from degradation
Sow in the seeds of education
They run from us, are we that dangerous?
There's a war in all the streets and yes the freaks must dance or die!

A long long way to find the one
We'll keep on dancing 'til she comes
These dreams are forever
Oh these dreams are forever
And if you wanna wake the sun
Just keep on marching to the drums
These dreams are forever
Oh these dreams are forever


Lyrics submitted by dejavula, edited by smallwonderrobot

"Dance or Die" as written by Janelle Robinson Charles Joseph

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Dance Or Die song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI'm kind of sick of reading comments about Janelle Monae's songs regarding race and only race. Her songs regard anything and anyone that are not mainstream; racial minorities, religious minorities, LGBT, and even underground or unknown musicians! Her songs are about xenophobia and the fear of standing up against the majority / the powers that be, and "Dance or Die" displays that better than any other song on "The ArchAndroid." She's blatantly stating that we're "zombies;" we are mindless and kill just to kill. & Even then, the "kill" references are just metaphorical. "Kill" can mean anything, such as following trends, adapting beliefs that are mainstream at the time, and so on. She calls us zombies with damn good justification; because that's exactly what we are in this world... mindless bags of bones who eat and kill and travel in packs for no evident reason.

    As far as "Dance or Die," again, it's not literal! By "dance," she means "conform." By "die," she is meaning something of becoming an outcast in society. By calling out "Yes, the freaks must dance or die!", she's calling out to people who label themselves individualistic, who the crowd may consider "freaky" or "weird." She's telling us: "Okay, conform if you want to... but if you REALLY want to make a difference and make your voice heard, you can't be afraid to stand up and speak!"

    Her music is more universal than you think. It's not about blatant love-gone-wrong stories or racial issues; Metropolis is a metaphor for the WORLD, and more directly, AMERICA!
    tyakon October 20, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is a message that should be spread. It's basically talking to the black community. It's this album's "Sincerely, Jane". She is saying that kids in the streets have no ambition and are walking around like zombies killing eachother. When she says dance or die, IMO she is referring to the idea that people (usually black) from the streets only choices are to [die] join a gang/army or go to prison, or being entertainers (athletes, comedians, singers, rappers, etc).

    She then uses her story as an example saying how she's the little bird that sings nd brings a message to wake up her people. Which ties in with the ArchAndroid story. Not that she's the only one who can, because she refers to other people who want "jubilation/ emancipation/ a stronger nation. The only way to stop this cycle of us being seen as merely dancers or a dying race is education. Education is the cure to ignorance. An ignorance is what causes hatred, racism nd thus the poverty nd downfall of all people.
    tobekaion October 01, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust another thought on the meaning of "dance" - I know in a lot of interviews she talks about the transformative power of dance and how it can be a tool for change and against oppression, so I'm thinking maybe "Dance or Die" is not necessarily forceful, but sort of the key to NOT being a Zombie - basically, dancing to live.
    ayeleton May 02, 2011   Link

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