Famous people often seem to have a handle on life, to be in control of the situation. However, in “All Falls Down,” Kanye West suggests a contrasting belief. According to Kanye West, the attire, bling, and fancy cars, of these people are simply shields, blocking their low self-esteem. Although often times, people believe that the rich have figured out life through their monetary success, in actuality, these expensive items tend to be their way of making themselves less self-conscious, suggesting that wealth, although possibly a short term solution, does not solve all of life’s problems.
While it is common to see rappers or famous people wearing brand-name clothing, diamonds, or driving fancy cars, in “All Falls Down,” Kanye West claims that the reasons for these riches are self-consciousness and a low self-esteem. “We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us.” Often times, rappers face criticism, which can cause them to compensate in other ways. One form of compensation is to look immaculate and buy the most expensive items, to shine. Slick Rick dedicates an entire half of his song "La Di Da Di" displaying his impeccable dress and brand name clothing.
Furthermore, Kanye West says, “I spent 400 bucks on this just to be like nigga you ain’t up on this.” The wealthy possess money that others do not, and therefore, by purchasing expensive apparel; they provide themselves a short-term Band-Aid of confidence.
Although money buys clothing, jewelry, and cars, it cannot buy long-term confidence or a clear head. “We buy our way out of jail, but we can’t buy freedom.” Despite this line and the one before referencing the way he treats jail and the police, Kanye West is not talking about the police as much as he is himself, and the limits of money. His persona in this song does not treat the police well because he can buy his way out of jail. He has money. However, when freed of the constraints of the jail cell, he is not freed of his own head. He remains so self-conscious from all of his critics and fans opinions, that he renders himself permanent slave. Kanye West’s claims extend further to famous people as a whole. Because they tend to constantly be in the spotlight, they must always worry about others opinions towards them. Therefore, Kanye West reveals, “We’re all self-conscious I’m just the first to admit it.”
Kanye West’s message in “All Falls Down,” is that money does not buy happiness and yet people constantly use money in an attempt to cover up their self-consciousness. “Drug dealer buy Jordans, crackhead buy crack… I got a problem with spending bills before I get it… Single black female addicted to retail.” These monetary problems exist in people in all walks of life. Yet in all of these examples, the people are buying the items to shield their own self-consciousness. While these attempts to shield their insecurity from the world may seem to work from the outside, they are only creating a larger problem on the inside. Because along with their insecurity that returns after the initial relief goes away, they sometimes create addictions to purchasing these expensive items.
This problem has lasted many years. Kings in the olden days adorned themselves with jewels and clothes of the age, years ago, some people wore elaborate suits and wigs, and today, rappers often wear bling and drive fancy cars as symbols of their wealth.
While these riches may represent wealth, they do not suggest inner peace, self-confidence, and a strong handle on life. We are all self-conscience. Money is not always the answer.