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Why "the City" is unnatural


In her essay “The Drama of Country and City,” Loren Kruger asserts that notions of “city” are best understood in juxtaposition with the meaning of “country,” whose root word is contra, meaning “against” or “opposite.” She writes, “This etymology complicates the familiar contrasts between the city as ‘achieved centre’ and a place of light and the country as a ‘place of backwardness’ or, conversely, between the country as the site of ‘a natural way of life’ and the city as a place of ‘worldliness, ambition,’ and, one might add, corruption and decadence."

The song uses the word “jungle” to illustrate the city. A jungle would of course be located in a place far removed from urbanity and the ghetto – in other words, in nature, or the contra of the city – and yet, the group chooses to label the city as a jungle. This dirty, perverted vision of a jungle, a place that would naturally be vibrant with abundant life, highlights the frustration of the rappers with the lifeless, dead-end reality of the ghetto.

The song offers examples of a zombie-like city with phrases like “cancered membrane” and “sewed her arm on again.” The city can thus be understood as a hopeless environment that breeds violence and filth in a cyclical pattern. The relevance of this is that cycles are repetitive and importantly alive, and the city is, tragically and unavoidably, alive with destruction, spreading its violent zombie disease to everything that lives in it.

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