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Meaning of the song ‘On the Low’ by ‘Tove Styrke’

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Released: 2018

“On the Low” by Tove Styrke is a heartfelt confession of undeniable emotions and passionate longing in a love affair that’s been kept under wraps. This lyrical narrative delves into the struggle to suppress feelings, the craving for presence, and the emotional turmoil of keeping a relationship low-key.

The song kicks off with, “I don’t wanna hold up, I don’t wanna slow down / And try to like you less, it don’t make sense to me.” Styrke sets the stage by expressing her own internal struggle: she doesn’t want to suppress her feelings, nor slow down the budding relationship. The dialogue, “try to like you less,” is straight-up street slang; it’s an attempt to control or lessen the feelings she has for her partner, which to her, ‘don’t make sense.’

As the chorus launches, Styrke repeats the line, “I don’t wanna keep it on the low, low, low” – ‘keeping it on the low’ is a common phrase in the hip-hop sphere that means keeping something secret or low profile. Here, she stresses her unwillingness to keep their relationship hidden. It’s a cry for validation and openness about their love.

Midway through, Styrke asks, “Why you need space now? / I don’t wanna zoom out.” The phrase ‘zoom out’ signifies taking a step back, distancing oneself, hence she doesn’t want the emotional distance. And the question “Why you need space now?” bares the rawness of her feelings – hunger for closeness against her lover’s need for space.

In the repeated verse, “Maybe I’ve been spending way too many nights with you / But what the hell am I supposed to do?”, Styrke acknowledges that the time spent may be excessive, yet confesses her inability to change the situation. It’s a desperate admission of her love and the vulnerability it’s brought her.

Overall, “On the Low” by Tove Styrke is a potent blend of hip-hop linguistic patterns, candid vulnerability and a catchy chorus, all coming together to resonate with anyone who’s ever been stuck in the chaos of a secret affair. It’s a lyrical tale of emotional conflict, underscored with raw honesty and a strong desire to break free from the shadows of a hidden relationship.

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