Dream Playlist: Lost in the World – Kanye West

I can’t overstate the emotional impact this song had (still has) on me. I want to write so much, but every time I begin, I feel the words are 100% inadequate, so I’ll simply go through his lyrics as I hear them. If you’re a fan of the track, then you probably have your own interpretation, but that’s exactly what makes art great.

“Lost In The World”
(feat. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver)

[Sample From “Woods”: Justin Vernon]
I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind
I’m building a still to slow down the time
I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind
I’m building a still to slow down the time
I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind
I’m building a still to slow down the time

The opening is haunting. It’s full of a sad yearning that is displayed masterfully and uniquely by Justin Vernon. And given the fact that Bon Iver’s “Woods” was not an old track when Kanye essentially remade the song, shows Ye’s respect for Justin by inviting him on the remake. Also doesn’t hurt as a cosign from the original artist.

I’m lost in the World, I’m down my whole life
I’m (building) a city, and I’m down for the night
Down for the night
Said she’s down for the night

At this point, we begin to hear what Kanye must’ve heard while listening to “Woods”. The helplessness of being lost in the woods he heard as being lost in the world. Who doesn’t feel that way from time to time? How many of us feel that way every single day, but don’t say the words? Try saying it out loud…

“I’m lost in the world.”

Just verbally saying it out loud has an emotional impact. #CRAY

Then the very next line, the next change from the original “Woods” lyrics of being “down on my mind” to “down my WHOLE life.”  Son…….I’m giving the screen the ‘screwface’ right now.  Down my whole life????  That’s a special kinda depressed right there.  But it’s so real.  Hit me like a freight train.

Now the emotional repeat:

I’m lost in the World, been down my whole life
I’m new in the city, but I’m down for the night
Down for the night, down for the night

The build up of the volume and tempo is also an indication of the subject’s mindset after the acknowledgement of their situation. They are now going to do something about it, even if they don’t totally know what it is, but they have to do something different. Anything.  I’m new in the city = this is uncharted territory. BUT I’m down for the night = but I’m open for all the possibilities this new life could bring me. Just give me anything different from this daily crushing feeling of being absolutely lost.

[Kanye West:]
Your my Devil, Your my Angel
Your my Heaven, Your my Hell
Your my Now, Your my Forever
Your my Freedom, Your my Jail
Your my Lies, Your my Truth
Your my War, Your my Truce
Your my Questions, Your my Proof
Your my Stress and your my Masseuse

This ish right here is simply insane. On the surface it looks like Ye’ simply looked up a thesaurus and threw it on the track, but you would be woefully mistaken. When Kanye finally does lend his vocals to the track, he sums up one of his major recurring themes in his catalogue: The unspoken dichotomy. The yin and yang. The inner struggle that almost all of us fight against.

Mama-say mama-say ma-ma-coo-sah
Lost in this Plastic life,
Let’s Break out of this fake ass Party
Turn this in to a Classic Night
If we die in each others arms, still get laid in that Afterlife
If we die in each others arms, still get laid

The crazy thing is that the internal dichotomy that most of us fight is the very same thing that defines who you are.  And the EMBRACING OF IT WILL SET YOU FREE.

Lost in this Plastic life / Let’s break out of this fake ass party / turn this into a classic night = They system and the mask we all wear to fit in it.  Then finding the courage to remove it.  Whatever comes next will be personally vindicating – classic.  If we die in each other’s arms, still get laid in that afterlife = The recognition that there’s no greater pleasure than having someone around that accepts and embraces you as you TRULY are, and not for the mask you wear around them to keep them comfortable.

From Kanye’s perspective, I also see this verse reflecting the passion for his music.  It binds him mentally, yet sets him free.  It’s the source of many of his questions, but also serves as its own answer once he finishes a body of work.  I doubt he stresses about anything else more than his music, which is a reflection of himself.  But at the same time, there’s probably nothing more therapeutic for a mind as busy as his as well.  It’s his masseuse.

He embraces his own dichotomies.  He’s helped teach me how to embrace mine.

[female vocals]
[Run from the lights, run from the night]
[Run for your life]
I’m new in the city
[Down for the night, down for the night]

I don’t even know what to say about this shyt.  Now we get to actually hear the female voice.  Up until this point, we’ve only heard the male voice.  And throughout the song, he’s almost been trying to convince someone else to come break free with him.  He compares it to trying to get a hot chick to leave the party with you to get laid in that afterlife.  Then DIRECTLY after Ye’ spits his game, we hear her voice.  Her submission to him by taking control of her own life (even if it’s only for one night).  WHAT?!  Can’t you hear the dichotomy?  The yin and the yang?  The male voice and the female voice – the submission and the control?  On BOTH ends!

If you could do what you wanted to do for only one night, what would you do?  No regrets, no consequences, no judgement.  If you were DOWN for the night, what would you do?

Now, what would you do if you could do what you wanted for the rest of your life? [ Run from the lights / Run from the night / Run for your life]

GTFOH, Kanye.  Screw you for your genius composition.  If you’re not moved by this point……….I dunno what else to tell you.  But Kanye does…he just repeats himself.  And he lets the music soar at this point.

I’m lost in the World, I’m down my whole life
I’m new in the city, but I’m down for the night
Down for the night, down for the night

Who will survive in America? (x4)

If you haven’t figured it out yet, THIS is how you survive in America.  By removing the mask and being your true self.  It’s the only way to stand out from the crowd.  It’s the only way to have a true impact AND be happy with yourself at the same time.  At the end of the day, it’s the only message I want to leave my son with…be yourself.

I’m lost in the World, Been down my whole life
I’m new in the city, but I’m down for the night
Down for the night, down for the night

[Repeat with vigor]

I can easily count the number of times I’ve shed actual tears in my life.  And on more than one occasion, I’ve been described as emotionally void, cold, whatever.  But this track cuts through all of that.  I’ve literally burst out into tears listening to this opus – uncontrollably.  Screw your judgement.  That’s the power of music.  The power of art.  The power of people.  And the beauty of life.

And THAT is why this song deserves a spot on my Playlist of Dreams.

So go listen again.  Sit alone and put in your earphones.  Turn off the lights and close your eyes.  Then press play.  Let the music soar.

If you’re interested, check out Kanye’s visual interpretation in his 30 mins. feature film, Runaway, if you haven’t seen it already.  For greatest impact, find time to watch the whole thing.  To skip to the visuals for this track, start at 28:23.

[run for your life]

Purchase “Lost in the World” – Kanye West

Woods – Bon Iver

Would love to hear your thoughts on the track or on my interpretation of it.

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2 thoughts on “Dream Playlist: Lost in the World – Kanye West

  1. Thanks for putting those strong emotions from that classic into collective thoughts. Great piece!! btw you also educated me on Justin Vernon who is another very interesting story.. Keep up the good work.

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