Eye spy with MY little eye

We all depend on visuals to act as a signifier to interpret the world around us in a different perspective. As individuals, we all have our own interpretations on images; many of these give meaning to the life we live and others are simple symbols that give us direction (Theorist, Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Peirce believed this to be the science of signs, also knowns as semiotics). But is this to say these understandings haven’t been embedded into us by society due to the fear of individuality? The following blog looks at two images which will give each individual various thoughts based upon their beliefs.

Some of us see the world in simple black and white, whilst others see it in colours, and it’s those people who see colour in the world that are most vulnerable to become isolated from society. They are the individuals in this world that are looked upon as “different” because of their individuality. Those images with denotative meanings help give these individuals, who crave the feeling of belonging, a sense of understanding as they act as a signifier that society views it the same.


Based on my individual ideologies and knowledge, the image above is a representation of the rapper Tupac Shakur. The shadowing against the wall emphasises that the young boy sees this man as a king, whereas he is simply the prince who is gaining confidence and knowledge by communicating with Tupac.  The focus of the image is the stance of Tupac and the young child. The child is trusting this tattooed man who has his arms open to him as if he is opening his arms up to a new world.

Kendrick Lamar’s new song “Mortal Man” is where both photos were generated from. The song name-checks leaders from Nelson Mandela to Martin Luther King Jr. and Moses. The last poem and verse involves Kendrick interviewing the last king of Hip-Hop, Tupac Shakur. Through the song, you gain an understanding that Lamar realises that he’s a new voice in a long line of leaders.

“It’s gonna be murder,” Tupac says. “It’s gonna be like Nat Turner, 1831, up in this mother—, you know what I’m saying. It’s gonna happen.”
“That’s crazy, man,” Lamar says. “In my opinion, the only hope we kinda have left is music. Vibrations.

“Like Tupac, Lamar could effortlessly juxtapose his feelings of worthlessness with a bravado that was magnetic, inspiring. His rapping was so virtuosic that he almost seemed bored by his own skill”¹


Both images are complex as each individual will have their own input based on their own beliefs and knowledge. The second image can be viewed differently to what is actually happening. The denotation of the image involves Kendrick Lamar and Tupac conversing in the walls of a church. Kendrick’s facials are saddened compared to Tupac, who is smiling as if he is proud. In the walls of a church, Kendrick finds his passion for Hip Hop by conversing with the king, Tupac. During the interview/song, Kendrick mentions being one of Tupac’s offspring of the legacy that he left behind. Therefore through listening to the song and viewing the images, you can tell there is a strong sense of familiarity between the two.
Through my eyes, it seems like Kendrick seems alone in the world of Hip Hop. His saddened features tell us that he would rather be with a king. Tupac, on the other hand, is smiling like the two friends are simply catching up. Unfortunately at the end of the verse, Tupac doesn’t reply – I recommend you listen to the interview, I actually got goosebumps –

Although these images have no text, the song gives all the meaning each photo needs.

¹Log In – The New York Times. 2015. Log In – The New York Times. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/24/magazine/notes-on-the-hip-hop-messiah.html?_r=0. [Accessed 27 March 2015].


2 thoughts on “Eye spy with MY little eye

  1. This is an interesting take on semiotics, particularly with the question you pose about individuality. This question could have many different answers leaning towards both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. There are some who deliberately challenge societal values (those you refer to as the ones who can see ‘colour’). I do think though that societal influences, the media, the government, etc. have a definite impact on the way you interpret a signifier based on what you want to believe, what you feel you should believe, and what you do believe. To an extent, your individual values are shaped by society, the media and other influences.

    Before reading your post I formed my own understanding of the images. I have a very limited knowledge of Tupac Shakur, but I was able to recognise who he was when I looked at the images. I came to a similar conclusion to you for the first image, though thoughts of the child being quite intimidated, perhaps by someone he respects very much did cross my mind.

    An interesting take on the blog task for Semiotics! It provokes thought how a sign comes about in ones mind.


  2. You chose an image that will look significantly different to a lot of people, which is a great example of how our own personal knowledge, ideologies, experiences and biases affect both the way we view an image, and the meaning we draw from it.

    Contrary to the first comment on this post, upon seeing the image I knew exactly what it was depicting and where it came about. I saw Tupac Shakur with his kingly silhouette on the wall, looking down upon Kendrick Lamar depicted as a child, in a mentoring manner. My own experiences tell me that the child figure in the image is Kendrick Lamar, due to the emulation of some of his clothes. I know that Kendrick wears a red striped shirt often.

    The fact that Kendrick’s silhouette also has a crown builds upon my own knowledge of hip-hop music, and the ideal that Tupac once sat upon the throne as the king of rap. Images like this perpetuate the idea that the time has come for the title to be passed down from Tupac to Kendrick, as like you said, he is next in the line of leaders.

    Liked by 1 person

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