Cop lights, flash lights
Spot lights, strobe lights
from Kanye West (Ft. Alicia Keys, Charlie Wilson, Elly Jackson, Elton John, Fergie, John Legend, Kid Cudi, Rihanna, Ryan Leslie, The-Dream & The World Famous Tony Williams) – All of the Lights Lyrics on Rap Genius
Here Kanye presents the dichotomy between the good and bad sides of fame, by contrasting this section of the song with Elly Jackson’s part before his first verse. Where as earlier the lights were positive and promising, now they sound more depressing. They relate to getting in trouble, and generally being overwhelmed with spotlights being cast on you all the time.
This is what a fatherless household exposes its children to. Without the father figure, which close to all artists on this song had to grow up without, the children are more likely to get in trouble and not be able to deal with all these lights.
Lights are also an ongoing theme in Kanye’s music: “Flashing Lights” from Graduation and “Street Lights” from 808s & Heartbreak both get lyrical callbacks here.
This sort of list is an example of the poetic device cataloging, which, while acknowledged less often than other devices like rhyme and metaphor, is as ancient as Homer and is central to the free verse of Walt Whitman.
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