Rhetoric of Kanye West’s “All Falls Down”

Kanye West is running the rap scene these days.

Lyrics to Kanye West’s “All Falls Down”: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/kanyewest/allfallsdown.html

Kanye West’s “All Falls Down” scrutinizes people’s lack of self-confidence within society and describes how this self-consciousness ultimately prompts excessive materialism.

Kanye begins the song by introducing listeners to a story he has fabricated about an unnamed “self-conscious” and “insecure” girl living in America. By not giving the girl a name, he is insinuating that she has no sense of identity, falling victim to the emptiness of materialism. By not self-reflecting on who she is, she has not developed herself as a person, and is not worthy of even having a name to differentiate herself from anyone else.  After going to college for three years, she drops out (hence the name of the album, “College Dropout”) and going against the wishes of her parents, becomes a hair stylist. Yet instead of doing this because it is her passion, she simply wants money to feed her shopping addiction.

Through the use of storytelling, Kanye provides a pathos appeal by connecting with his viewers. He wants his listeners to relate to the girl in the song so that his message becomes even more powerful. Kanye explains that instead of going to school because society expects one to do so, people should pursue education only if that is their own desire. He feels that most people are indoctrinated into wanting fancy clothes and expensive cars, while it is this greediness that forces people to throw away their individual goals.

Kanye narrows his audience at certain points in the song as he talks about racism against the black community. He claims that white people bought expensive items to represent the superiority of the white community over the black community. Eventually, Kanye puts forth his ethos appeal later in the song as he talks about himself and how he is no exception to this vicious cycle of greed. By using phrases like “I promise” throughout his verses, he wants people to trust him as someone who has experienced both poverty and wealth. His message is clear that society puts pressure on people to do things they do not necessarily want to do and people chase material wealth to impress others. Kanye persuades his listeners to stay clear of this fake form of happiness and develop self-esteem that will allow them to pursue the things in life that they want to pursue.

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