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Meaning of the song ‘Riot’ by ‘XXXTENTACION’

Released: 2020

Step into the charged world of “Riot” by XXXTENTACION, a cuttin’ track inundated with brimful of societal critique and raw introspection. XXXTENTACION vocalizes the paradoxical nature of racial violence and self-destruction within the black community, while also taking a hard look at systemic racism and its detrimental effects.

The opening lines, “You ever seen a nigga hung with a gold chain? I’d rather sing about the same things that we claim,” immediately pitch you into the rapper’s contemplative mood. He’s questioning the senseless violence within the culture he’s part of, juxtaposing the material symbols of success (gold chain) with the reality of black pain and racial violence.

As we dive into the verse “Niggas ask for peace in a riot and bring violence, ‘Cause it’s a game of cat and mouse and you gon’ bleed silent,” here XXXTENTACION addresses the irony of seeking peace through violence. The phrase “game of cat and mouse” typically refers to a situation where two parties are constantly chasing or evading each other- in this context, he’s probably referring to the endless cycle of violence between the police and the black community.

With the lines “Then kill a woman with many children makes you a chump. Look at all the stores you wreckin’, nigga I reckon. Think about the people who own it for about a second,” X is calling out those in his community who partake in destructive actions, asking them to consider the real victims of their violence.

Next, XXXTENTACION spits controversial bars such as “I could preach the peace but say, ‘Fuck it’ and preach the murder ‘Cause this ain’t fuckin’ life that we livin'”, illustrating the frustration within minority communities, and dissatisfaction with existing circumstances. Then he pushes listeners out of comfort zones with lines like “Go ahead and grab the extension. Grab another one, uncle, cousin, brother, son.” The term ‘extension’ is slang for a firearm – implying that violence is a cycle passed on through generations.

In closing, “We see, I see, death before the children, White guys and white girls hanging from the buildings,” XXXTENTACION paints a grim picture of a society where hatred, violence, and prejudice are the norm, underlining the urgency for change.

On the whole, “Riot” is a poignant critique on the self-destructive tendencies within the black community, the systemic oppression they face, and the need for constructive change. This track is a chess move within hip-hop, as XXXTENTACION uses his lyrics as pieces to navigate through complex societal issues.

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