What does Settle for Nothing mean?

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Rage Against the Machine: Settle for Nothing Meaning


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Settle for Nothing Lyrics

A jail cell is freedom from the pain in my home
Hatred passed on, passed on and passed on
A world of violent rage
But it's one that I can recognise
Having never seen the colour of my father's eyes
Yes, I dwell in hell, but it's a hell that I...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jun 12th 2006 report

    The song is about social outcasts, gangs and gang culture.

    It seems fairly obvious to me as I am from Los Angeles and the lyrics kinda speak for themselves.

    Many people grow up in poverty stricken 'hoods of LA which face police brutality, intimidation and very little in the way of govenment support. Its also worth noting that many of these deprived areas can see the Hollywood sign from their neighbourhoods - almost taunting them. In this case a 'jail cell' may seem like freedom to these people.

    Its commonplace for males to grow up without a father, or sometimes any male presence in their lives.

    '...I tried to grip my family, but I slipped...
    I got a nine a sign a set, and now I got a name...'

    Simply put, these people are caught between a broken family with very little or no security, or a gang of men who watch each others backs. The 'nine' refers to a 9mm handgun - a 'set' is another word for a gang and the 'sign' is usually a hand signal representing the first letter of their gang/set.

    '...read my writing on the wall'

    Most probably associated with gang graffiti and 'tags' which further represent the gangs. This graffiti is known to be used as a gang code where gangs make coded references to each other either to insult their rivals, or warn them.
    You could also interprit this line as meaning murals painted on walls which are frequently used as forms of expression across Southern California, especially amoungst the mexican/latino community. Whilst many are spectacular to look at, they largely go unnoticed.

    'caught between my culture, and the system...suicide/genocide..'

    Law enforcement and government representatives commonly stereotype people on what they look like and where they come from, often labelling black and latino youths as trouble and menaces. A drive down Crenshaw Blvd will take you from the "happening" and glitzy West Hollywood area, to almost the heart of gangland LA. The stark contrast is proof of a economically deprived area neglected, and almost forgotton. Genocide.

  2. anonymous
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    Jul 26th 2020 report

    i think, this song is about a person who lives a lonelly and mediocry life but then he realiced that he has the enough time for change his life before he become in nothing

  3. littlebigminiature
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    Aug 4th 2005 report

    Settle for Nothing is about how only about a dozen people are in the streets protesting. The other say they'll follow the dozen, but they back out as it gets into higher levels of protest. The chorus gives the song away, but I'll break it down for you beginners:

    "Read my writing on the wall"
    This verse refers to how he is protesting by writing on public facilities.

    "No ones here to catch me when I fall"
    This is saying, no one is going to back the protester up, because they are all backing out, so he falls into jail.

    "Death is on my side...suicide!"
    This verse is saying that the protesters will receive a death penalty, for their actions.

    "Caught between my culture and the system..." is another give away, it is saying that he could do whats right to God, or do what the law states.

    This song is basically trying to get as many people as possible in the streets protesting for freedom.


    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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