Message – Decrypting Urban Despair and Resistance


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's Message at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Concrete Jungle: An Urban Labyrinth of Struggle
  5. Pushed to the Edge: Portraits of Mental Grounding Amidst Chaos
  6. The Cycle of Desperation: A Narrative of Inherited Misfortune
  7. Hidden in Plain Sight: Dismantling the Code
  8. Echoes of an Era: Memorable Lines that Still Reverberate

Lyrics

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Broken glass everywhere
People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far
‘Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car

Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head, ha-ha

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Standin’ on the front stoop hangin’ out the window
Watchin’ all the cars go by, roarin’ as the breezes blow
Crazy lady, livin’ in a bag
Eatin’ outta garbage pails, used to be a fag hag
Said she’ll dance the tango, skip the light fandango
A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peep show watchin’ all the creeps
So she can tell her stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got so-so seditty
She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own

Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head, ha-ha

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

My brother’s doin’ bad, stole my mother’s TV
Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy
All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors, they ring my phone
And scare my wife when I’m not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
Neon King Kong standin’ on my back
Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I’m goin’ insane
I swear I might hijack a plane

Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

My son said, Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school
‘Cause the teacher’s a jerk, he must think I’m a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
‘Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
They pushed that girl in front of the train
Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again
Stabbed that man right in his heart
Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
I can’t walk through the park ’cause it’s crazy after dark
Keep my hand on my gun ’cause they got me on the run
I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jaw
Hear them say “you want some more?”
Livin’ on a see-saw

Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head, say what?

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too
Because only God knows what you’ll go through
You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate
And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alleyway
You’ll admire all the number-book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
Drivin’ big cars, spendin’ twenties and tens
And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them
Huh, smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers
You say I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool
But then you wind up droppin’ outta high school
Now you’re unemployed, all non-void
Walkin’ round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
Got sent up for a eight-year bid
Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag
Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
Bein’ used and abused to serve like hell
Till one day, you was found hung dead in the cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young

So don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head, ha-ha

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under, ha-ha
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under, ha-ha

Full Lyrics

The year was 1982 when a seismic wave rippled through the soundscape of hip-hop, carrying with it a narrative so raw and piquant that it would go on to echo through the ages. ‘The Message’ by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five didn’t just serve music; it served a candid snapshot of urban life, woven with the threads of struggle, survival, and social consciousness.

At its core, the track is a harbinger of truth, unmasking the various facets of inner-city despair that veiled the streets of America’s concrete jungles. As we unravel the layers, it becomes evident that its lyrics are far more than a rhythmic overlay to a throbbing beat; they are pages of a pictorial diary etched with the ink of experiential testimony.

The Concrete Jungle: An Urban Labyrinth of Struggle

The iconic refrain—’It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under’—is an anchor to the song’s underlying theme of urban decay and the survivalist mentality it breeds. Each verse in ‘The Message’ is a meticulous study of the socioeconomic barricades that residents in impoverished neighborhoods navigate daily.

In detailing scenes of broken glass, unchecked criminality, and inescapable squalor, the lyrics paint a grim reality for those confined within the urban maze—a reality that is as much a mental struggle as it is a physical one. ‘Broken glass everywhere’ is not just about the physical landscape, but also about the shattered opportunities and fragmented dreams of those who call the streets their home.

Pushed to the Edge: Portraits of Mental Grounding Amidst Chaos

The poised yet precarious refrain ‘Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge’ reverberates as a forewarning against the fragility of the human psyche when pitted against relentless adversity. The song skillfully captures the weight of mental health issues that arise from systemic poverty—using melodic elements to underscore the silent battle against losing one’s mind.

This persistent push and pull embody the heart of the track, juxtaposing the necessity of maintaining composure against the dehumanizing forces that chip away at one’s resolve. Each repetition of the chorus serves as both a mantra for self-preservation and a philosophical inquiry into the resilience required to merely exist in such a hostile environment.

The Cycle of Desperation: A Narrative of Inherited Misfortune

From the poignant lines about educational disillusionment to tales of crime born from necessity, ‘The Message’ delivers a sobering analysis of cyclical poverty. It speaks to a generational inheritance that is both material—in the form of dilapidated living conditions—and immaterial, seen through learned behaviors and societal pressures.

Verses like ‘A child is born with no state of mind, blind to the ways of mankind’ illustrate the innocence lost when one is thrust into a world where survival supersedes morality. These words are a testimony to the environment’s role as a crucible forging the future of those born into disadvantage.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Dismantling the Code

There are layers to ‘The Message’ that may not immediately meet the eye—or ear. It’s an open letter not just to those who resonate with the narrative but also to those outside of these experiences. The implications of lines such as ‘Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny,’ serve as an indictment of capitalistic structures that prioritize wealth over well-being.

Far deeper than a mere recount of life’s grimmer moments, the song’s hidden code speaks of resistance against these very systems. It’s about finding agency within powerlessness and leveraging that edge—the precipice of one’s sanity—as a force for awakening and perhaps change.

Echoes of an Era: Memorable Lines that Still Reverberate

The gravitational pull of ‘The Message’ lies in its candid snapshots encapsulated by memorable lines that remain potent decades later. ‘I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise’ isn’t simply a complaint; it’s a visceral cry for environmental justice and a reclaiming of personal space against the infringement of urban decay.

Meanwhile, ‘You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey’ exposes the irony of the American Dream, highlighting the paradox between the nation’s promise of abundance and the grim, hustle-driven reality for its underprivileged citizens. These lines transport the listener, then and now, to a place that demands to be seen and heard, compelling a dialogue that remains crucial to the fabric of today’s social conversation.

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