Released by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in 2007 as the first single of the album “Strength and Loyalty”, the Hip Hop song “I Tried” was very successful, being the highest charting release of the group. The song’s success with the public may be explained by its strong message. Many people could identify with this song because it tackles the issue of poverty, particularly in urban environments, and of how difficult it is for black men from bad neighborhoods to raise above the social condition of their parents and reach the American dream. I was also impacted by this song, because I feel it relates to me to a great extent.
The song begins with the lamentation of the singer who complains that, “I try so hard can’t seem to get away from misery /man I try so hard”. The singer than explains that although he tries to stay out of problems and move forward in life, the streets are an evil environment because he gets into trouble no matter how hard he tries to stay away from them. The singer states that it is not his fault, and this becomes an essential part of the song, because it suggests that destiny, society and even God, whom he asks for help, are to blame for his misery. Society in particular seems to bear the fault for his failure, because he is “just a black man”, and he comes “from the darkside”, and therefore, the society does not give him any chance to redeem himself.
The singer confesses that he has done some bad things in his life, such as gambling, scamming or hustling, and these deeds have become demons that hunt him, and also, his actions affect his family and cause them pain. The singer seems to be in a circle of suffering and poverty he cannot get out of. He confesses that “it’s hard to manage cause everyday’s a challenge” and he feels he is slipping and will not be able to handle the pressure of everyday life. He perceives his future as a dark one because he can see that things do not change and as soon as he manages to “get out”, the misery of his bad neighborhood pulls him back in the same kind of troubles he used to have.
The song is typical for the Hip hop musical genre, because it is meant to describe the lived realities of a category of people –black males who live in bad neighborhoods in America, and to send an inspirational message to them. Hip Hop has become a popular musical genre in the American culture, and stopped representing a genre only by and for Blacks, as it used to be. However, it remains anchored particularly in the realities of Black Americans, particularly in the realities of young men who begin their adulthood by having no direction in life, and no means to reach their dreams. For this reason this song sounds “true” to many Blacks in bad neighborhoods. It sends a positive message about poor Black men, that they are not unwilling to change their lives, or inherently bad, but that they cannot control what happens to them, and that the place where they live defines their reality.
The song relates to me to a great extent, because I too feel sometimes that I try in vain to reach my dream. Yet, as the singer, I also keep trying hoping that one day, I will defeat all obstacles. I come from a modest family, and I lived in a bad neighborhood. I have been attracted by gang life but I tried to remain far from the temptations it offered. I tried my best not to do anything that would cause me problems with the police, but I did enrage my parents many times, and I got in trouble at school several times. Each time, I felt miserable about the sufferance I caused to my family. This also fits with the theme of the song because here, the singer feels not only incapable of overcoming financial struggle but also, of establishing strong, positive relations with those around. He confesses not being able to have relationships and causing pain to his family.
The verses “I tried so hard”, and also “I guess I gotta try harder” are very touching, and many young Black Americans feel that this verses apply to them, because it seems that everything is harder to achieve for Blacks, and what Whites take for granted, Blacks have to fight for. Young men who think about this song do not only feel that it is related to them, but also to their parents and to their grandparents, because in many cases, they are struggling because they come from families that have struggled as well. I too feel that this song not only applies to me, but also to my parents and grandparents as well. They tried so hard to overcome their condition and offer their children them everything they wanted! Unfortunately, as the singer, they too were unable to break the circle and succeed in life.
However, I have a better chance than they have, because of education. I feel that the character in this song is so unhappy, his attempt is in vain, because, as many young Black men in bad neighborhoods, has dropped school feeling that it is useless and tried to make money on their own. Unlike them, I do have a plan and my plan involves getting an education. I owe this to my parents and my grandparents, and to all those who “Tried so hard” in my family, for their children to be able to succeed. If I can reach my dreams, than generations of members of my family will have not tried in vain.