Bodies decorated with tattoos and chains
Trying to put armor between you and pain

from Brother Ali – Only Life I Know Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

One of Brother Ali’s key concepts: we use materialistic things to deal with the pain of living in this world where frank unfairness and inequality of various communities is not only tolerated, but promulgated. (I usually speak to big people, so I usually use big words.)

He also refers to this in the album “Us,” in Begin Here: “All the chains and the bracelets…we’re trying to touch happiness before we touch the urn.”

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