Celebrating Masculinity through Music

8 Min Read
Prince at the Fabulous Forum in 1985, Michael Ochs Archives

R E C O M M E N D A T I O N – M U S I C

Tasnia Shahrin, Anindya Arif

Being a human in this world is not easy. Since the day you are born, you are identified with your race, colour, and gender — which later on results in layers of unrealistic expectations and stigma. Given this situation, music can be considered an important medium of art that can teach strong lessons, highlight crucial problems and injustices, and even inspire people to bring about changes in society. It is because people who write songs can express important messages through stories, statements, and metaphors.

Numerous songwriters have used their skills to portray the struggle a man faces in this over-judgmental world. Starting from the forced concept of always being the breadwinner, to having to appear “manly” or “masculine”, to inhumane prejudice such as “men should never cry” — being a man can be really daunting in this society. This article subtly talks about these issues by listing down some heartwarming music produced by male artists.

Little Lion Man at its core is about yearning for love and acceptance and grasping the fact that it’s impossible to become what you want to be. Universally, men struggle with feelings of incompetence and strive for some sort of acceptance from a parental figure. 


Weep for yourself, my man, you’ll never be what is in your heart.

Weep Little Lion Man, you’re not as brave as you were at the start.

Rate yourself and rake yourself, take all the courage you have left.

Wasted on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head.


It further divulges how this lack of approval leads to feelings of inadequacy in future relations, and men’s struggles with emotional vulnerability, which they often take out on their partners — eventually leading to more failed relationships. The ballad ends on a more positive note, as the vocalist realises the purist is ultimately pointless himself for self-sabotaging past relationships. 

In this star-studded collaboration, Big Sean alongside Kanye West and John Legend, lay out the positive influences, resilience, and struggles he had to overcome on his journey, all in the theme. 


And when you get it all, just remember one thing

Remember one thing, that one man can change the world

That one man can change the world


Over a subtle piano line, Sean remembers his grandmother’s advice; his tough upbringing; and how against all odds, he has found success. Just like him, anyone can change the world. 

This dewy-eyed ballad deals with the complexity of a son’s regrets over unsettled conflicts with his now-dead father, which at its core also forces the listener to confront the idea of how their parents will also die one day — leaving them with regrets.


I know that I’m a prisoner to all my father held so dear

I know that I’m a hostage, to all his hopes and fears

I just wish I could have told him in the living years


The lyrics stem from Mike’s personal relationship with his father, who died prior to the release of the track. In spite of the resentment, arguments, and fall outs, our parents will not be here forever and “It’s too late (It’s too late) When we die”.

Icarus, the longest track in Eden’s debut record, deals with heavy subjects like self-destruction and how people pretend there’s progress taking place when there actually isn’t. How even when you have achieved everything you ever wanted in life, it leaves you burnt out and probably won’t make you feel better about yourself. 


I’ve nothing left to give you

And I’m so burnt out and lost

‘Cause it all just feels the same

And I got all I want

I had you where I wanted

I guess I don’t know

How to live with a good thing

And not break it into nothing


However, at the end, the song leaves the listener with an honest confession — courage and a kind of innate emptiness and lain, which you don’t initially understand, but then you slowly realise what it truly means, in that, it won’t fix itself, it won’t automatically get better without you actually doing something about it.

Let Me Go focuses on growing up in a society where people around you are not understanding of what you are growing into, and how you want to leave behind anyone not wanting to stay with the person you are now. However, at the same time, you want everyone to accept the person you have become, but you refuse to accept the fact that you can’t accept yourself.


Stop with the pretending, I don’t feel respected I just feel rejected, I don’t like rejection.

You promise protection, I don’t feel protected, I just feel neglected, how can I respect it?

I’ll teach them a lesson; I pick up the weapon, aim in your direction, shoot at my reflection, shatter my perception, hate it when I’m desperate.

You just want perfection; I want you to let me


You feel most people just want perfection, but you forget that it’s human nature to always want more, and they would want more even if you gave them perfection.

Everyone deals with adversity, and Lose Yourself is a reminder to keep pushing, whether you’re dealing with hitting your goals at work or reaching your goals in the gym.


It doesn’t matter, he’s dope, he knows that, but he’s broke
He’s so stagnant, he knows, when he goes back to this mobile home, that’s when it’s
Back to the lab again, yo, this whole rhapsody
Better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him


This is a collection of tunes that, along with speaking to our values, epitomise what it means to be a man — and a good one at that. Remember, at the end of the day, regardless of our socially assigned duties, we are all humans too, and the above listed songs sing us the struggles of masculinity in this competitive world. Be kind to one another!


Tasnia is a proud Slytherin who loves binging on poetry and graphic novels in her free time. Anindya eats music, fiction, and reality — all for breakfast. Send him fresh recipes at [email protected]

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