click for lyrics



How "Respiration" attempts to answer problems presented in "The Message"


Grandmaster Flash laments of ghetto youth, "You want to grow up to be just like them, huh," "them" being drug dealers and pimps. He doesn’t lay blame or offer a solution; he just tells it “like it is.”

Where Grandmaster Flash leaves a problem open and unresolved, the more contemporary Blackstar seems to echo Grandmaster Flash’s lamentation with a progressive call for action: “For trees to grow in Brooklyn, seeds need to be planted.” Blackstar implies these metaphorical trees are the only solution in amending the cyclical problem of generations being trapped in the ghetto.

Images of these trees being planted directly contradicts Grandmaster Flash's zombie city. Approximately fifteen years after "The Message" was written, hip hop seems to be growing more proactive in its collective call for action to change. More activists are choosing to call upon ghetto residents themselves to cause change, rather than relying on a system that has failed in the past.

click to learn more about the artists behind Respiration