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Breaking down the Lyrics on ‘War & Leisure’ by ‘Miguel’

Released: 2017

Label: ByStorm Entertainment/RCA Records

Featuring: Rick Ross, Travis Scott, QUIN, Kali Uchis, J. Cole, Salaam Remi

Los Angeles native Miguel Pimentel, better known by his first name ‘Miguel,’ is an artist who has consistently challenged the status quo of R&B with his unique blend of soul, funk, electronic, and rock influences. His fourth studio album, ‘War & Leisure,’ released in 2017, is a melodic joy ride that intertwines these influences with a strong dose of 21st-century anxieties, illustrating his creative prowess in a more political light.

‘War & Leisure’ stands as an unforgettable album that brilliantly juxtaposes the pressures of modern life with the pursuit of pleasure. It’s a kaleidoscopic rendition of Miguel’s internal world, offering songs that are as deeply intimate as they are universally relatable. Each track exhibits a sublime fusion of blissful melodies with poignant lyrical themes, from introspective self-awareness to commentary on societal injustices.

Indeed, ‘War & Leisure’ is a testament to Miguel’s incredible capabilities as an artist, showcasing his knack for crafting tunes that do more than just entertain; they incite thought, reflection, and a shared sense of human experience. And it’s these moments of lyrical profundity that make Miguel’s discography particularly intriguing and worth delving deeper into, as his words often echo louder than the beats they’re laid over.

So let’s get into it. From “Criminal” to “Now,” here are the Breaking down the Lyrics on ‘War & Leisure’ by ‘Miguel.’

1.
Criminal

Features: Rick Ross

Miguel’s smooth vocal delivery rides on a pulsing beat and weaves a narrative of a complex love affair, flirting with the dangerous allure of the forbidden. The chorus, “Oh, it’s so good it feels criminal / This shit’s gotta be criminal / The way I keep killing you,” embodies a provocative dichotomy of pleasure and danger, sin and sanctity. Ross, on the other hand, drops in with an unapologetic brag about his rise to fame, deepening the song’s thematic exploration of extravagance and excessive indulgence. However, Ross’s verse, which rings with lines like, “Kaepernick of my city, little homie, take a knee,” adds a socio-political layer, showing you the very gradient of the hip-hop spectrum in one track.

2.
Pineapple Skies

His lyrics play out like an optimistic mantra, assuring us repeatedly – “Promise everything gon’ be alright”. This line illuminates the song’s hope-filled narrative, serving as an anchor for us amidst the swirling, psychedelic soundscape that’s as refreshing as it is soulful. The ‘pineapple purple skies’ also symbolize a state of pure bliss, where barriers are non-existent and love is free-flowing. Miguel’s airy falsetto harmonizes with the whimsical imagery, transporting us into this celestial dreamscape. The song delicately mixes lofty aspirations with an intimate, grounded perspective, establishing an enticing paradox. “Pineapple Skies” truly showcases Miguel’s knack for blending soulful melodies with deep, intuitive lyricism, immersing us in a radiant ether of promise and positivity.

3.
Sky Walker

Features: Travis Scott

His lyrics convey a disregard for societal expectations, instead encouraging listeners to seize every moment without hesitation. The enveloping vibe is an intoxicating blend of jubilance and bravado, encapsulated perfectly when Miguel proclaims, “I’m Luke Skywalkin’ on these haters,” a powerful metaphor that denotes triumph over negativity. Travis Scott punctuates the track with his signature trap-infused rap verbiage, injecting an assured boldness to the narrative. His feature is a surprise catalyst that propels the track’s energy to stratospheric heights. Without a doubt, “Sky Walker” is not just a testament to Miguel’s audacity, but also a fiery call-to-action for listeners to live uninhibitedly and unabashedly.

4.
Banana Clip

In this joint, he lays down metaphoric artillery, using the imagery of war to express his profound and protective love. It’s a wicked spin, turning cruel symbols of destruction into an emblem of his unyielding affection. His lyrical genius shines in the lines: “Banana clip on my love for you. Let it ring like (graa), Yeah, I let it ring like (graa)”. He redefines ‘trigger happy’, swapping the traditionally negative connotation to suggest an eager and passionate devotion. The contrast between the militaristic imagery and romantic theme is a testament to how deeply hip-hop influences his craft. Even in love songs, Miguel masterfully weaves in the angst, battle, and resilience emblematic to the genre.

5.
Wolf

Features: QUIN

Using the classic metaphor of the werewolf as a representation for unchecked desire and hidden beastly aspects of humanity, Miguel delves deep into the darker sides of desire, each lyric a sanguinary slash across placid pretenses. The heartrending croon, “My, what big eyes you have, oh yeah… My, what sharp teeth you have”, employs the time-tested trope from ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, fostering an atmosphere soaked in feral intensity, haunted by the figure of the wild, insatiable wolf. There’s a clear motif of transgression that manifests in an intense, heedless longing to indulge in the forbidden. This song shows that Miguel isn’t afraid to morph, to adapt, to shed an old skin for a new, moon-lit one; he’s raw, he’s real, and he doesn’t shy away from exposing the beast beneath.

6.
Harem

The track is a proclamation of love and liberation, pleading for the listener to join him in an idyllic sanctuary where love and trust reign supreme. His lyrics, “Come and share where love is free, harem / ‘Cause we would love your company, company,” serve as a metaphor for the sense of community Miguel seeks to foster – an oasis in an oft-misunderstood world. The song’s lush rhythms underscore this vision of shared experience, adding depth to Miguel’s musings. As with much of his work, ‘Harem’ showcases Miguel’s ability to balance sensual themes with intellectual exploration, positioning him as a distinctive voice in contemporary hip-hop and R&B.

7.
Told You So

The track is a heady blend of silk-lined caution and promises, his voice floating over a rhythmic waterfall like a slick cipher. Miguel flexes his lyrical biceps with lines like “Every pleasure you taste has its price, babe.” He ain’t tiptoeing; he’s strutting between enticement and warning, offering freedom while reminding you nothing is free. It’s a hypnotic serenade, layered thick with Miguel’s sensuous warning – a comet swaying between love’s gravitational pull and the cosmic chill of regret. And when Miguel croons, “I don’t wanna say I told you so” – it reeks of prophecy-prematurely-fulfilled, an echo in a tunnel just before the train strikes.

8.
City of Angels

It’s Miguel exploring the gap between himself and his city, LA, ‘the city of angels’. There’s melancholic introspection with lines like, “I was busy letting you down, woman/ When the City of Angels fell / I was nowhere to be found.” This joint serves up regret, loss, and self-reproach through a narrative metaphor of an apocalyptic LA. The track is steeped in futurism, weaving love and betrayal within an alien invasion narrative. His guilt over his failing relationship is mirrored in regret over his inability to save his city, and that’s what makes the track hit hard. It’s like peeping into Miguel’s personal diary, filled with emotive confessions and vivid imageries that encapsulate his complex relationship with his girl and his city. Miguel’s dope harmonies layered on stripped-down beats solidify “City of Angels” as a standout track on ‘War & Leisure’.

9.
Caramelo Duro

Features: Kali Uchis

He effortlessly flows between English and Spanish, blurring boundaries and creating a musical melting pot. Miguel’s lyrics are a metaphorical rollercoaster, filled with candy-themed euphemism and innuendos that add an attractive layer of sensual tension. Its standout line, “Got that flavor, yeah, that’s something you can’t buy,” epitomizes the song’s mix of affection and desire, all wrapped in its candy motif. It’s a smooth fusion of R&B and Latin pop; Miguel’s velvet voice over funky basslines and Kali’s tender vocals, illustrating how seamlessly he weaves into the Latin pop landscape. A masterclass on how to shape an album with varying musical influences, while making each track stand out.

10.
Come Through and Chill

Features: J. Cole, Salaam Remi

Cole’s lyrical prowess adds a layer of depth. A standout line by Cole, “Know you’ve been on my mind like Kaepernick kneelin’ or police killings,” injects the personal narrative with poignant social commentary – a demonstration of how this track’s chill atmosphere is more multi-layered than just simply Miguel’s invitation for his girl to put on her sweats. With its seductive melodies and thought-provoking lines, “Come Through and Chill” expertly blends sensuality, emotion, and social consciousness, making it a highlight in Miguel’s roster.

11.
Anointed

Probing his relationship with mortality, spirituality, desire, and sanctity, the track’s mantra-like repetition underscores the near-religious experience of corporeal love. Miguel’s silky falsetto harmonizes a powerful ode to the divine of the feminine: “You, make me feel like a god / Make me feel like I’ve been anointed”. The monumental line gives a shout to his lover’s transformative power, linking love and worship. The track’s instrumental revs up the visceral energy with booming hip-hop drums and echoing chorals, punctuating Miguel’s spiritual awakening. The lyrics’ blend of spiritual and sensual imagery reflects a subtle shift in R&B’s thematic landscape, showcasing Miguel’s uncanny ability to craft a lyrical narrative that encapsulates the holistic experience of love, spirituality, and sexuality.

12.
Now

The track candidly addresses burning issues like systemic racism, political indifference and environmental neglect. Draped in soulful undertones, it echoes cries from the oppressed corners of society. Miguel’s heartfelt lyricism is a beacon of integrity – he’s not just a vocalist, but a voice for the voiceless. Miguel shakes the complacent with lines like, “Is that the look of freedom, now? By the way he treats those he does not need” – a brutal takedown of those in power who turn a blind eye to the marginalized. And the chorus, “We only suffer what we allow” hits hard, a stark call-out to society’s collective inaction. “Now” isn’t just a song, it’s a powerful discourse, and Miguel uses his lyrical genius to ensure the message hits home.

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