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Meaning of ‘Prep-School Gangsters’ by ‘Vampire Weekend’

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Released: 2024

“Prep-School Gangsters” by Vampire Weekend seems to reflect on the experiences in an elite education setting, challenging the façade of camaraderie, and pointing out the striking class divide. The lyrics could also be read as a commentary on adolescence, the pursuit of status or popularity, and a critique of the socio-economic disparities laid bare within these elite spaces.

The opening line, “It’s just somethin’ people say / They don’t really feel that way” could indicate insincerity or hypocrisy common amongst the privileged circles. The phrase “Prep-school gangsters make the call / As the summer turns to fall” likely highlights how the powerful students decide what the rules are, and when they change. The term “prep-school gangsters” paints a picture of privileged kids playing at being tough guys, but really, they’re untouched by the harsh realities that real gangsters face.

Furthermore, the lyrics “I was tired but wakin’ up / I was dying to test my luck” hints on the drive and ambition of the protagonist to challenge the status quo. As the song says, “Prep-school gangsters barred the way / There was nothin’ I could say”, the protagonist remarks on his suppressed voice in the face of this powerful group.

Likewise, phrases such as “Call me jealous, call me mad / Now I got the thing you had” may be the protagonist’s admission to desiring the power held by the ‘prep-school gangsters’. This could also be his realization of how he’s not so different from the people he criticizes. The repeated line “There was someone just like me” echoes a connection, perhaps implicating that these struggles are a repeating cycle.

To end the song, the chorus “It’s just somethin’ people say” is repeated, further emphasizing the emptiness and insincerity of social niceties in privileged settings. It suggests that an expression often used to downplay significant situations, becomes a façade to hide true feelings and motives.

So to sum it up, Vampire Weekend’s “Prep-School Gangsters” is a sharp critique of elite education’s culture, illustrating how it breeds hypocrisy, class struggles, and power games – all wrapped up in catchy melodies and insightful lyrics.

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