The thought of conceptual metaphors is elusive, and ever present. What does this mean? Each and every day humans make sense of the reality around them by creating these metaphors. Not the type of metaphors seen in poetry where authors compare one thing to another, although similar, very different things apply to conceptual metaphors. Conceptual metaphors strive to make sense of reality by linking a concrete object (source domain) to an abstract idea (target domain) in order to better understand said abstract idea. Even though these concepts are seen and heard in everyday life, the idea of a conceptual metaphor is elusive because it is so engrained in people’s lives that they rarely realize precisely what they are accomplishing. Even more so, these metaphors are seen in music performances. In the rest of this piece, I will discuss and analyze the conceptual metaphors found in a collaborative album from two members of the Mello Music Group, L’Orange and Jeremiah Jae’s 2015 project, The Night Took Us in Like Family.
Do My Best to Carry On
The first track I’ll analyze is the second cut off the album entitled, “Do My Best to Carry On”. The first conceptual metaphor we see in this song is EMOTION IS A PHYSICAL FORCE. In the lyrics:
I’ll do my best to carry on, I hope somebody up there loves me
These two short bars show that EMOTION IS A PHYSICAL FORCE because L’Orange is stating that he will continue to move forward (another conceptual metaphor we’ll see later), despite the fact that his emotions are attempting to hold him back, proving the physical force that emotions use. It’s obvious he is speaking on emotions because the very next line is, “I hope somebody up there loves me.”
|can hold you back or move you forward||a bad emotion can feel restraining|
|moves objects||moves people into making certain decisions|
|can create friction||emotions can create a friction or tension in relationships|
|force of nature; waves or thunder||can be felt deep within, within the heart, the mind|
Taken by the Night
Taken by the night is the next track up. The title itself is a metaphor, DEATH IS NIGHT. If we listen to the song, we hear a major theme throughout is death, so the title is a word of caution, warning listeners to not fall victim to the night (death).
|dark||death is often seen as a dark thing, no more light, turning off a switch|
|end of the day||death can be viewed as the end of a day cycle, creating a sense of nighttime|
|time for rest||a common saying is “Rest in Peace”|
Next, we have a combination of two metaphors from the same song, again, relating to death. The lyrics are as follows;
When the sky turns black, that’s when he’s back on the road, for sure
Here, the two metaphors at play use each other to make sense of the phrases used. The first being, again, DEATH IS NIGHT as I covered previously, and second, LIFE IS A JOURNEY. The second one is seen in the second half of the lyric referring to a road. Of course, no journey is complete without a road of some sorts.
|Detours||Unexpected life events|
|Roadblocks||Things that slow or stop the journey|
All I Need (feat. Gift of Gab)
In this song, yet again, only one conceptual metaphor makes itself very apparent. POLITICS IS WAR is demonstrated in the lyrics:
Even when corruption blow up like napalm, don’t attempt to be a hero, slow down and stay calm people
Now, to understand this one, the lyrics need to be taken in in context. In this verse, Gift of Gab (the featured artist) is speaking on the corruption of politics and his personal views on police brutality in America. Due to the nature of his words, he views politics as a war referring to war techniques like napalm. This one is interesting because it is not directly referring to politics, but rather the effect of corrupt politics as the artist sees.
|an everlasting battle||a battle with many casualities|
|generally 2 sided||bipartisan politics|
|a goal in mind for each side||attempting to run agendas|
|a winner when the smoke clears||winners declared by laws and policies|
A very common theme throughout the entirety of this album is death. We see another example in the song “Kicking Glass” with the metaphor that DEATH IS SLEEP. Very similar to DEATH IS NIGHT, however there are a few key differences. Sleep and death are related in different manners that night and death are. Night provides an end, much like death, but sleep is a lighter way of speaking on the subject of death. We see this in the lyric:
Caught you greasy, believe me there won’t be a next time, if it was me you’d be sleeping where the pets are
Here, we see L’Orange threatening an unnamed entity that he is speaking to throughout the entire verse. He threatens this entity with death, but in a manner that is lighter than blatantly mentioning death itself. Sleep provides the source, so the listener can fully understand the target domain of death and recognize the power behind this threat.
|eyes closed, unconscious state||consciousness has left the body|
|a close to the day||life is often referred to as a day, with death being the end to that day|
|peace, restful||again, common phrasing such as rest in peace|
|inevitable, each night your body requires you to sleep||death for everyone is an inevitable, unavoidable thing|
Ignore the Man to Your Right
In this song, a new conceptual metaphor is being presented. GOOD IS THE RIGHT is what is seen here. This, meaning, subconsciously, humans associate things on their right side as being “good” and things on their left side as “bad”. With the lyric,
Ignore the man to your right, it’s right in front of you, something you gotta earn, love it or let it burn
Basically, in these lines, Jeremiah Jae is saying, don’t be focused on what’s to your right, the real problem is right in front of you. By ignoring what’s on your right, it’s showing that it’s a trustworthy place, or in other words, GOOD IS THE RIGHT.
|“right hand man”||associated as a trustworthy person|
Throughout the album created by L’Orange and Jeremiah Jae, we see many conceptual metaphors present themselves. The artists may have not realized precisely what they were achieving with using such language because it is so engrained in human culture, however, their lyrics are given much more meaning through the use of these symbols.