In an age where popular music is dominated by diva’s and thug’s, positive and meaningful music is often overlooked in favor of songs such as “Stupid Hoe” by Nicki Minaj or Lil Wayne’s, “Blunt Blowin'”. Music is a vital form of self-expression, and it seems as if popular music expresses nothing more then the want for inebriation and lust. On the other hand, there is still music full of emotion and meaning, and a great example of this would be the album pictured above, Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be, by We Came As Romans. Between the album artwork and the content of the album, the musicians on the album seek to prove that although popular music entrances people with catchy, yet mindless lyrics, there still exists a multitude of artists that seek to reach people with a positive message.
The album cover in itself is bursting with meaning and symbolism. A young boy is in the center of the picture. His brain is emerging through the top of his head, however the brain resembles a tree growing its roots rather than someones mind. His stomach is torn open and from it flows a river that runs in between a grey stone canyon. The tear in his stomach is being ripped open by two spiritual looking animals on each side of him. On the left side is a bright white lion and on the right is a dark and ominous raven; both animals are seemingly whispering into the boys ear.
The two animals symbolize the common contrast of good versus evil, and can be equated to a devil and an angel on the boys shoulder advising him what he should do. The lion is a symbol of pride and courage and is bright white in order to represent angelic qualities. The raven is portrayed as evil and mysterious and its claw is outstretched towards the boys stomach and is ripping it prefusely. Both creatures seem to be trying to sway the boys ideology and can be equated to the idea of a devil and an angel on ones shoulder. This same idea is also reffered to in one of the songs on this album, “A War Inside”. In the beginning of the song, the vocalist yells, “The devil on my shoulder tells me he’s proud of me/That it takes a real man to look out for himself and no one else”. This devil is the raven drawing the boy towards a life of arrogance and isolation. Later in the song, the tone is shifted dramatically, and the vocalist yells, “The angel on my should tells me he’s proud of me/That it takes a real man to live for everyone before himself”. These two quotes refer directly to the picture on the album cover, as both the forces of good an evil try to persuade people. Themes like this are prevalent on the record and exemplify how the artists realistically send a positive message, unlike many other artists of this generation.