Last night the word came down, ten dead in Chinatown
Innocent, their only crime was being in the wrong place, at the wrong time
Too bad, people say what's wrong with the kids today
Tell you right now they've got nothing to lose

They're building empire
Johnny used to work after school
At the cinema show
Gotta hustle if he wants an education
Yeah he's got a long way to go
Now he's out on the street all day
Selling crack to the people who pay
Got an AK-47 for his best friend
Business the American way

East side meets west side downtown
No time, the walls fall down

Can't you feel it coming?
(Empire) can't you hear it calling?
Black man, trapped again
Hold his chain in his hand
Brother killing brother for the profit of another,
Game point, nobody wins
Decline, right on time
What happened to the dream sublime?
Tear it all down, we'll put it up again
Another empire?

East side meets west side downtown
No time, no line, the walls fall down

Can't you feel it coming? (empire)
Can't you hear it coming (empire)
Can't someone here stop it?

In fiscal year nineteen eighty six to eighty seven
Local, state and federal governments spent
A combined total of sixty point six million dollars on law enforcement
Federal law enforcement expenditures ranked last in absolute dollars
And accounted for only six percent of all federal spending
By way of comparison, the federal government spent twenty-four million more on space exploration
And forty-three times more on national defense and international relations than the law enforcement

Can't you feel it coming? (empire) can't you hear it calling (empire)
Can't someone here stop it (empire)


Lyrics submitted by Ice, edited by digitalmanMKII, Birdo33

Empire Lyrics as written by Michael Wilton Geoff Tate

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

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Empire song meanings
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25 Comments

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  • +2
    Song Meaning

    This song is simple, IMHO. It delineates how our country is turning to shit, yet we pump billions upon billions upon billions of dollars into other countries so that our oil companies can make their billions of dollars in net profit every quarter.

    With our ridiculous expenditures on national "defense" and the neglect of our own law enforcement, gang activity, violent crime etc. is going to keep on increasing. My city, for example, is always voting for an increase in law enforcement funding, to combat the perpetually-increasing violent crime rate in this shithole. It is simply insufficient.

    A guy I know abcsonded parole, and the FBI caught him on a train 2,000 miles away, and hauled him in. Where the fvck is the effort/resources to catch actual dangers to society? Police departments depend on frivolous citations and fines to pay their own salaries, that's it. They don't really care about real crime, unless something falls into their lap. Or they don't have the resources to fight it fully.

    benj30a4on August 05, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Also, I believe in the song they actually say 60.6 BILLION, not million.

    If you add both 1986 and 1987 expenditures on Protection, minus fire, its 61.8 Billion total, federal, local and state. And the Federal Defense expenditures for those 2 years combined (minus Veterans benefits) is 43 times the Federal governments expenditure on Law enforcement.

    nathus77on April 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    By way of comparison, the US is currently spending $3000 a SECOND in Iraq.

    PigeonWingon May 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Yeah I listened to this part several times and I am not 100% but probably about 99% sure they say 60.6 Billion in the song. That would make a lot more sense since 60.6 Million would just be ridiculous.

    plutaon September 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I'm fairly certain he's saying "A sixth of a percent", not "6 percent". He does pretty clearly say "billion" in stead of million, so the math all checks out.

    So the only question left is "Can't you feel it coming?"

    ThirdRevolutionon October 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I agree with ThirdRevolution, pretty sure its "a sixth" and "billion."

    Maddolison October 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I would like to add....

    (Spoken) In fiscal year 1986-87, local, state, and federal governments spent a combined total of 60.6 million dollars on law enforcement. Federal law enforcement expenditures ranked last in absolute dollars, and accounted for only 6% of all federal spending. By way of comparison, the federal government spent $24 million more on space exploration, and 43 TIMES more on national defense and international relations than the law enforcement.

    I know it may sound petty, but this song strikes a chord with me, not just with the musical dynamic, but with the implied message. I have had several friends join law enforcement straight out of high school with dreams of spreading justice and protecting the innocent, only to awaken to a harsh reality that the law enforcement is the red-headed stepchild of government funding, thereby limiting its effectiveness. Kind of disheartening, to say the least.

    jules4099on March 07, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    wonderful addition jules... that's not something you can just leave out of the song

    and by the way, these guys are way underrated (fantastic writers and performers)

    AncientRhythmon February 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    yah...i hate when people leave out parts of the song even though it might not be te actual singer singing. like the beginning of thos song it says : "Next message, saved saturday at 9:24 Pm - "sry i just, it started to hit me like a um...umm...2 ton heavy thing"

    -ZERO-on March 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Here in Australia, in the late 1980's-early 90's, one particular suburb of Sydney was the drug/violence capital of Australia. This song reminds me that that suburb wasn't alone

    holliganon June 23, 2006   Link

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