On October 1st, 2001 Fugazi dropped their last project The Argument, before going on an indefinite Hiatus in 2003. During the recording of the project, the United States was going through political turmoil both in-house and throughout the Middle East. While things were certainly not dormant in the early 90s when Fugzai first banded together, by the time of The Arguments release the militarization of police against POC started to expand and war reaching new heights. All of these instances started to feed into the band’s narrative and build into their immense distaste for the racialized and violent politics being spewed from their hometown of D.C. While the album finished up recording in April of 2001, by the time of its release 9/11 had already been the focus for Americans for 3 weeks. It’s important that because of this event the song I’ll be talking about, The Kill, is not directly a 9/11 response song (yet correctly identified the problems post 9/11 America will face) but rather in Ian Mackaye’s words an “anti-war manifesto”. 




When approaching The Kill, the genre of the album is also important to the context of the piece. When Fugazi first started frontman Ian MacKaye was coming off the heels of his other band Minor Threat. Minor Threat in a short explanation was one of the front runners of a new sub-genre of punk labeled “hardcore”. Hardcore punk offered more aggressive and fast riffs and most songs was built off of energy that was lacking in post-punk and alternative scenes at the time. When Fugazi came around they were post-hardcore, yet still carried the genre’s tropes onward. However, by the time of the mid-90s, Fugazi started shifting sounds and moved towards a more approachable art-punk and alternative side. It’s at this moment where the context of lyrics and melody become important pieces of discussion because Fugazi had matured and was writing songs that kept their political nature but focused on melody as well. It’s with the more mature side of the band that listeners also began hearing more anti-war anthems, rather than songs about the tedious natures of life. 


Ian MacKaye’s lyrics for The Kill are easy to decipher when certain bars are broken down and evaluated. Ian MacKaye starts off by stating that we are…


Born into race and nation

Accept family and obligation

I’m not a citizen, I’m not a citizen–>While the first two bars establish what a common American may identify themselves as this makes them “not a citizen” in Ian’s eyes. The question is then why?


MacKaye further writes 


Embrace tradition and occupation

Cull memory for assimilation

Secure for future generations

Secure for future generations→ When reading the passage it’s clear to see MacKaye’s anger towards the trap the military pulls to lure people into recruitment. Rather than embracing community Mackaye believes that the military is more insidious with their intentions. 


Laying down in chambers

Waiting for the call

Seen Your Kind so many times—> “Your Kind” is often used through derogatory comments towards people of color to belittle them. In this case, POC are not “human” in the narrator’s eyes, rather, they are “terrorists” and “criminals”. Furthermore, the rest of the passage focuses on the call to action to stop said POC. 

You got no chance at all


These lyrics reflect the antithesis of the song which is that those who partake in policing are against the country and the world. MacKaye believes that the process of securing a generation’s future is by racially profiling the “enemy” and murdering them for power. Again, the events of police brutality of the 90s and the Gulf War have laid momentous importance to MacKaye’s political views. Without the context of the past the amount of critiques in and around MacKaye’s lyrics, and the emotional weight wouldn’t be carried the same today without it.