“Sweet Life” by Frank Ocean (2012)

“Sweet Life” was released in 2012 and written by Frank Ocean and Pharrell Williams. The R&B song focuses in on the idea of privilege and the issue that the wealthy are ignorant and “blind” to the real issues occurring in the society outside of their own wealthy bubble. This song intrigues me because it has a free-spirited and exciting sound, but the lyrics can go much deeper than that. It almost reminds me of the way “Born in the U.S.A” is delivered. It almost sounds like an anthem about living a great and perfect life as an American, but if you really listen to the lyrics, it is a commentary on the harsh reality. I want to analyze a song about this theme and social issue because it is important to listen to and educate ourselves on, especially coming from a PWI like St. Joe’s where a lot of students aren’t aware of the challenges people from other social classes and races face every day. “Sweet Life” could also raise more theories about the purpose and meaning of the song. One of these theories discusses the possible idea of the song representing the working class and the challenges the working class has to experience in order to finally live a “sweet life.”

While listening to this song, I also want to dive deeper in the ways it has been delivered by other artists through covers or if the song sampled any other songs and how it utilizes the sample and the purpose behind it. There is no music video on this song, but there are performances of the song by Frank Ocean at concerts. I am hoping to also explore the cover art of the song and any symbols it may demonstrate (see image below). “Sweet Life” and its meaning connect to the genre of R&B because this genre typically involves music that speaks on society or personal experience, which is exactly what Frank Ocean does.


Sweet Life (Frank Ocean song) - Wikipedia


“FOR MY PEOPLE” by Joey Bada$$ (2017)

“FOR MY PEOPLE” is written by Daniel Seeff, Chin Injeti, Adam Pallin, Sam Barsh, DJ Khalil & Joey Bada$$. The song is performed by Joey Bada$$. “FOR MY PEOPLE” highlights the social and political issues that the BIPOC community experience every day. Some of the common themes discussed include police brutality and racism. This song is also part of his album, “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$”, an album title that can also be analyzed and used in the analysis of “FOR MY PEOPLE.” The album and the song itself represents who Joey Bada$$ is as an artist and social activist. “FOR MY PEOPLE” also speaks on Joey’s upbringing and how it connects to the rest of the BIPOC community and how it hasn’t changed since his childhood. “FOR MY PEOPLE” really intrigued me because after reading the title, I made an immediate connection to the idea of “We the People” from the Declaration of Independence. Based on the background of this song, the similar sounding title could be Joey reclaiming who “the people’ are and represent. The Declaration of Independence has been critiqued in recent years with the idea that it does not fully and truthfully represent how America is. Whether this is the background and purpose behind the song title, it still is something that intrigued me when searching for music to analyze on the podcast.

Similar to “Sweet Life”, “FOR MY PEOPLE” does not have an official music video, but there still are performances at concerts. I am curious to find out if Joey Bada$$ utilizes symbols throughout performances to deliver his message in more detail and depth. “FOR MY PEOPLE” is an important song to listen to and analyze because it discusses the hardships of the Black community, yet provides this idea of how they can be considered “heroic” for getting through these hardships. The song ultimately brings awareness to racial injustices from the past and how it is reoccurring in the present with an emphasis on the idea of being a “hero” for yourself, others, and for Joey, “his people”. “FOR MY PEOPLE” is a song that falls under the hip-hop and rap genres. I couldn’t really envision this song in another genre because rap typically involves a lot of poetic features, which Joey Bada$$ definitely does.


Casey Wood