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Meaning of the song ‘Violent Crimes’ by ‘Kanye West’

Released: 2018

“Violent Crimes” by Kanye West taps into the deep transformation a man experiences when he becomes the father of a daughter. It’s a reflective piece where Ye confronts his past perceptions and behaviors toward women in the face of his newfound fatherhood. What unfolds is a narrative of apprehension, growth, and a plea for his daughter to retain her innocence in a world that he knows all too well.

The opening lines set a poignant scene, with Kanye acknowledging the pain and hardships that come with life, even suggesting a predilection for violent nights—perhaps a metaphor for the less savory elements of his past. As he moves into the chorus, there’s this paternal plea, urging his daughter not to grow up too fast, underscoring the anxiety that comes with knowing the reality of the world she will face. The “heroes of the night” perhaps alludes to those who’ve faced these harsh realities, paving a somewhat safer path for the next generation.

The hard-hitting truth comes through when Kanye reflects on the way men, often referred to in hip-hop as “niggas,” change their behavior when they have daughters. Their language shifts from braggadocious claims of being savage, monsters, pimps, and players, to being protective and apprehensive of the karma that may come from their daughters experiencing similar treatment from men. Kanye articulates a fundamental shift in perspective—from women as conquests to women as beings to nurture, heeding a wake-up call to his past self and perhaps to his peers.

We see Ye grapple with the duality of his own nature and the societal pressures that mold a man when he states, “not like your mommy’s” body, expressing his own internal conflict and perhaps the pervasiveness of body image issues propagated in the media. He’s aware of the toxicity online (“pervs all on the net”) that can prey on his daughter’s self-image and self-worth. The protective father emerges vividly as Kanye envisions the worst-case scenarios of rebellion, abuse, and the cycles that follow, ending in a powerful call for a moment of silence for yesterday’s trials and the hope of a better, safer future.

The outro binds the message of the song back to the impact of a father having a daughter. There’s an ironic twist where Kanye humorously notes he’d want his daughter to be a monster (a strong, formidable person), yet not in the hyper-sexualized context (“no ménages”) society might expect. There’s a conscious recognition of his role in shaping her future and an acknowledgment of the challenges in communication and intention when it comes to this subject.

In conclusion, “Violent Crimes” serves as Kanye West’s meditation on fatherhood, the transformation it brings about in a man, and the fierce desire to protect his child from the harsh realities he once perpetuated. Through this narrative, he beckons a broader audience to confront and re-evaluate societal constructs, especially as they pertain to the treatment of women and the cycle of influence from one generation to the next.

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