Update #4: A Note On Lyrical Relationships

Hello Everyone,

So, my research journal has a whole page dedicated to what looks like an odd color coded, symbolized multiplication table. I promise it’s not actually that. It’s actually a visual representation of lyrical relationships. Each theme has a corresponding highlight color or underline. When these themes occur in text, the lyrics are highlighted accordingly. In order to analyze relationships statistically, each relationship has to have a numeric code. Every possible thematic relationship is represented in the chart below. Using the example from the last post, “Hell You Talmbout” consists mostly of one relationship between names of victims of police brutality and #BLM slogans (in this case, “Say His/Her Name). The lyrics that contain the names of victims are highlighted in pink and the lyrics that contain “Say His/Her Name” are highlighted in yellow. As shown in the chart, the relationship between pink and yellow highlights is coded as number two. As redundant as this coding may seem, it eases the process of statistical analysis and makes interpreting relationships a much more refined process.


IMG_5337  IMG_5354




  1. waverlygarner says:

    Dear Alexa Mason,

    Before reading your updates, I was unaware of content analysis. Before about a month ago, I was unaware of the extent of police brutality and its specificity with regards to African Americans. Before two years ago, I was unaware of the Black Lives Matter movement, and when I was a young child, listening to those I loved telling me why I should look upon the Confederate flag with pride, I was unaware of the systemic power of racism in America. Your updates have resurrected quite a few memories. Thank you.
    Growing up, my Mum and Dad, having lived through the sixties, introduced me to the culture and idea of protest songs through such greats as CCR, Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and many others. They were important in that they allowed me to expand my worldview and to become passionate about the social changes that are needed more than ever in contemporary, American society. The protest songs supporting the BLM movement originate from, I imagine, a similar vein. In the spirit of protesting social injustice, they garner my support, though I have no knowledge or experience of the styles of music oft employed to support BLM. Perhaps becoming more aware of the history of these musical styles will make me more appreciative of them and more equipped to understand their themes of protest and hope for a better future.
    When you have completed this first project (one of many, I hope), do you have an idea of where you would like to go next? Have any narrative threads emerged from your work that have compelled you to follow them through the complex and emotional weave of BLM protest? I look forward to reading more of your story (if you have the time to write) in the coming week.
    Thank you once again. I look forward to continuing my pursuit of a better understanding of BLM and like movements so that I am no longer so ill-informed and so I may take proper action to do my part in helping to make America a better place for us all.




  2. admason01 says:

    Hi Waverly,

    I’m very glad to hear about your journey in pursuing social justice, specifically through the #BLM movement. Many people have misconceptions about #BLM, but it’s helpful to think of it as an extension of the Civil Rights Movement that your parents would have been familiar with, with new faces, new methods, and a refined focus. Protest music has indeed been an important aspect of civil rights struggle outside of African American history and is indeed a valuable tool in expanding worldview and familiarizing individuals with the goals of a movement, as you described in your comment. And your guess is correct, #BLM protest music emerges from very much the same vein. Hip-Hop and Rn’B have been the predominant genres of #BLM protest expression, due largely to the high concentration of Black artists in those genres. Hip-Hop actually emerged as a genre with the sole purpose of expressing dissatisfaction with social problems in the Black community. I encourage you to read on it if you would like, the history is very interesting. The most interesting thread that has emerged is that the majority of protest music I’ve studied has been comprised mostly of emotional appeals. As much as the music highlights criticism of police brutality and descriptions of such, a large portion of the music highlights the emotional distress of the artist, increased disillusionment with the American political, judicial, and social process, and sometimes overwhelming work of being a racial justice advocate. As of right now, I don’t have any further plans for the research other than tabulating my results and finishing my research paper. Thank you so much for your response!