Transcendentalism Pop Culture Project By kimberly sahagun


“Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the wood…and the repose is never complete. The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now…” - "Walden", Henry David Thoreau

Kanye is a unique figure in today's society. He's a trendsetter, nothing like the majority of sheep in today's society who fall victims to senseless consumerism. Since Kanye's debut he's had a strong effect on his followers, but his influence has been more noted in the mainstream between the years 2015-2016. He finds his power of influence through his strongly intimidating personality, music, and fashion taste.

West's attitude and perspectives inspire other to not be fearful of expressing ones ideas, feelings and artistic creativity. For example, in interviews many of the questions he is asked are directed to answers on topics of proactivity and productiveness. In terms of music in this aspect he has never been afraid of voicing his opinion even if it endangers the state of his reputation and he risks losing popularity. The track titled "New Slaves" on his 2013 Album titled "Yeezus" has strong hints of nonconformist feelings and ideas. A song in which he speaks about the opression of African Americans at the hands of white people, and he refers to himself as a "new slave" and how he will never stop fighting for a change. His influence is also seen in fashion with multiple collaborating with big faces in the clothing industry, like Balmain, and Adidas with which is known as the biggest partnership with a non athlete, the collaboration features several "seasons" of clothing and shoes sold at high prices.

Kanye's accomplishments in today's society are supported by the tenet of non conformity. West refuses to conform to the norms of society. His ideas put into action leave many in awe and others talking about it for weeks. This relates to Thoraeu's quote because as soon as this artist has on objective he reaches it no matter what it takes.


“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it."-"Self Reliance,"Emerson

Tyler the Creator, also known as Wolf Haley and other various names came from an american hip hop collective group from the west coast titled Odd Future. He is a self made artist which began his career in 2007 after being discovered by his current manager. He learned all of the music techniques he knows on his own due to his own personal interest on the topic. He is known for the morbid lyrics found in most of his verses as they are content of much violence, obscenity and profanity. The rapper has experienced a vast amount of criticism for his racy music.

In many interviews Tyler is asked questions about his success and how he reached to the level of success. The author then states important factors to his success which would help others. He says to make sure you're happy with the way your life is going and if you're not happy with it at this moment than simply change it. He was once asked if he felt that he had reached his potential, and he responded quite insightfully that he hadn't reached his potential yet. He said: "I don't know what potential means, because that's like a gap. Like a wall." The artist was saying that he had never felt like he reached potential himself because he had personally never reached it. Also that, potential is like an established wall or boundary that only holds ones self back from true success because once you've reached that potential, the individuals personal means of motivation and reason for creativity is lost.

Tyler the Creator's ideas on success are in the Transcendentalist category of Self-Reliance, due to the fact that personally success is always reached solely by ones self. This Rapper is proof of self made success with a story that is truly inspiring. I think Emerson would like Tyler the Creator because his way of thinking is different than most. He is a creative mind and a creative mind is the mind of a leader in society.


“In the woods we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life- no disgrace, no calamity…”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hozier is an Irish singer which found success after the release of his hit song "Take Me to Church" released September 2013 The release of this radio single gave way to the artists introduction to a more grand idea of fame. His name and single became known almost all over the world. This was leading to the release of his album "Hozier," on which the song "In a Week" was featured.

The song "In A Week" by Hozier shows an appreciation for nature in various ways. This is a song about two lovers dying in an open field together. For example, in the song, the line: "we lay here for years or for hours" gives a feeling that Death is being romanticized like they are frozen in a moment together rather than being dead. "We lay here for years or for hours/Thrown here or found/To freeze or to thaw/ So long we become the flowers/Two corpses we were/Two corpses I saw" These lyrics are can translate to the idea the couple will lay there in the ground as long as time allows them to do so and until their bodies are completely given back to the earth. The song brings forth the idea of these two lovers giving themselves back to the earth as it should be with a sort of acceptance and calmness towards facing death.

This song has indeed Transcendentalist ideas contained within it. When analyzed, the song has similar messages and a certain connection. to those found in Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant, a famous Transcendentalist Poet. Emerson would like this song because it has appreciation for nature but yet it has an even deeper meaning to it.


“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string”- “Self Reliance”, Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Neighbourhood otherwise known as The NBHD, first began as a small time band from Newbury Park, California, who became a hit after their song "Sweater Weather" was released April 23, 2016 and they have released two albums since.

The song "How" is a track on the album "I Love You." released 2013. This track is the narration of someones inner turmoil. The songs main character or protagonist is at a disagreement within himself over whether or not to believe in an omnipotent force which in this case would be god. It's an ongoing war between the narrators intuition and his reasoning based on how the outside world affects and influences this personal conflict of his. God tells him he's great and loved and that is what his fate is. But the narrator struggles in believing the teachings of his fate because of his lack of self-esteem. People make fun of him for his choice of beliefs,and he takes the frustration he feels out on God asking him that if his teachings were true then why does everyone intend on proving them contrary. In the song, it is said: "If you're gone, then I need you/If you're gone, then how is any of this real?/When I'm on, I believe you/When I'm not, my knees don't even seem to feel" in this verse the narrator say the only time he believes is when he is doing well. Throughout the rest of the song the narrator keeps a persistence in trying to keep his faith alive but, he struggles deeply with it.

This song is an example of when favoring intuition can come in handy when applied to more modern situations. The song shows someone having a hard time expressing themselves personally. I think Emerson will like this song because with like with a few works of Transcendentalist poetry it shows the internal struggle of the the artist to find their own voice in the the way society works in their times.


“Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.” - Walden, Henry David Thoreau

One Direction is a British-Irish boy band which was an extremely successful band initiated by British X-Factor in 2010. They have had major success with each of their albums selling millions of copies and selling out mostly all arena's in the few world tours that were coordinated. Not too long ago a track from their album "Made In The A.M." was released which was quite unique. This track, titled "History" was released November 6, 2015.

In the song History the band describes the need of a certain individual for their success. But, what is unique about it is that its basically stated that nothing of extravagance is needed for them to earn success as long as they're together. They're focused on the idea of the bond that that would cause rather than the materialistic aspect of what is earned of their teaming up. For example the Lyrics: "Expensive cars, minibars, hotel rooms, and new tattoos,good champagne, Private planes, we don't need anything". This song was written solely about the fans, after one of the band members left to pursue his solo career because he felt being in the band wasn't allowing him to be creative as an artist and to express himself. But, despite that the fans were there as always to support the albums release and success even without the missing member.

This songs message supports the selected quote of Thoreau's about simplicity, because one of the five important values of Transcendentalism is specifically to live a simplified life, to survive or live off of what is deemed necessary or the bare minimum to survive. I think Thoreau would like this song because he would appreciate the artists willingness to sacrifice all luxury for others.


Created with images by spawk - "Moody Forest" • kennyysun - "Kanye West: Saint Pablo Tour @ TD Garden (Boston, MA)" • Peter Hutchins - "Kanye West - Kanye Omari West" • demxx - "Tyler The Creator X Earl Sweatshirt @ Fox Theater Pomona" • MattJCarbone - "Coachella2011__0344" • kingArthur_aus - "Hozier" • Arjan Grendelman - "NOOOOOOOOO.......!!!!!!!!" • Sylwia Sarama - "The Neighbourhood XI" • Sylwia Sarama - "The Neighbourhood I" • thomasgitarre - "fender guitar music" • Pexels - "electronics music music player"

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