For trees to grow in Brooklyn, seeds need to be planted
I'm asking if y'all feel me and the crowd left me stranded
A reference to Betty Smith’s novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, is embedded in these lines.
While it might seem strange that Talib Kweli would pull from a story about Irish and Eastern European immigrants, this reveals something particularly important about his intentions. Kweli is broadening his audience here speaking not only towards the struggles and hardships of African Americans in the city, but also those of residents of any race and background.
“The crowd” that leaves Kweli “stranded” is representative of the people who do not understand the troubles of others who struggle in the city. For example, a homeless woman holding a cup outside of a restaurant or a woman yelling at passers-by from a stoop are completely overlooked by the common pedestrian. The crowd which constantly mills between the streets of a city is always confronted with many questions, asking “Do you recognize that I am a human being?” or “Do you understand my pain?” and by ignoring these questions, they leave the questioner stranded, misunderstood, and alone.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit "Respiration" by Black Star (Ft. Common) Lyrics and leave a comment on the lyrics box