10 Years

A Song by Shreyas Kumar (he/him)

“10 Years” Lyrics

Verse I: 

We’re breakin’ the news

Bodies are droppin’, changin’ the topic

Cause we do not pick and choose

Who they gon’ drop again, who they gon’ target next

I’m in the back of the room

Killin’ these rhymes like they killin’ our crew

Spittin’ these bars, I be spillin’ the truth

While you’re wipin’ the blood from off of your shoe (uh)

Raidin’ our houses, they chokin’ us out and

They leavin’ our life in a mess (ay)

Mockin’ us till we’re left killin’ ourselves

Cause we’re nothin’ if we’re not depressed (ay)

They’re comin’ for everything, all that I have

Dumpin’ our bodies, we’re nothin’ but trash

Y’all sayin’ my music will never impact

Shut it! Cause this ain’t your typical rap

Stay in your lane, drown in the pain

Lookin’ at everything, it’s all the same

Pick up the chain, slaughter their name

We live in a world where there’s nothin’ but hate

Riots inside of our heads, they be spinnin’,

And everything sucks in a life where I’m different

S*** they be spreadin’ is vile and limitless

Voices, they’re ringing’, and ringing’, and ringing’ and

F*** it! F*** the power!

You hear what I’m sayin’? Do you want it louder?

You just want us to shut up and devour

The garbage you spit in our lives, you’re a coward

All of these words, I’ve been sayin’ before

They gon’ be changin’ the world, that’s for sure

Shakin’ their bones right to the core

What are they sayin’? They askin’ for more?


I been up all day and all night long

Watchin’ this world as it falls apart

Numbers at large, runnin’ up the charts

Everyday’s the same as they’re laughin’ at the way they fall

F***in’ headaches from the pain they cause

We’re runnin’ away, and what’s worst of all

Ten years time, and the rates appall

Cryin’ in vain as they’re laughin’ at the way they-

Verse II:

Bringin’ it down, take off your crown

Look how it was, look at it now

Anyone thinkin’ that we should be proud

Don’t make a sound, rethink your ground

Cause this s*** be on a whole nother level

And nothing is solved till one thing is settled

When hurting the people with culture and etiquette

Givin’ em hell just for the hell of it

Why y’all out killin’ the ones not responsible, huh?

Do it give you power when you’re up on top?

When they be out yellin’, they’re beggin’ you: “STOP!”

Let’s see if it’s making a difference or not

When they’re kickin’, and screamin’, and cryin’ for help

In a world that won’t listen cause COVID it tells

A whole different story of violence and hell

You’re callin’ them demons? Just look at yourself!

I’m takin’ your idols

And tearin’ em down like it’s my rules

This s*** be out runnin’ in cycles

Spreadin’ like COVID, it’s viral

“America’s great!” I wish that it was

“Your feelings are fake!” I ain’t ever been buzzed

I don’t get no pay, I don’t get no luck

You don’t get a say cause I don’t give a f***

Man, everyone out here all pretendin’ that

Everything’s fine, everything’s swell again

Look at our pain, you think it’s irrelevant

Y’all may not see it, but we all remember it

We weren’t just born with hell in our hearts

Not long ago, we used to shoot for the stars

Man, if this really all that we are

Damn! It’s gonna tear us apart


I been up all day and all night long

Watchin’ this world as it falls apart

Numbers at large, runnin’ up the charts

Everyday’s the same as they’re laughin’ at the way they fall

F***in’ headaches from the pain they cause

We’re runnin’ away, and what’s worst of all

Ten years time, and the rates appall

Cryin’ in vain as they’re laughin’ at the way they-

Author Interview: Shreyas Kumar

Q. What was your inspiration for writing “10 years”? Why was this project meaningful to you? 

A. My inspiration for writing 10 Years was primarily just the general racial violence and divide America is facing. This song was initially written for the sake of a project Dr. Karunanayake assigned for English class. During my research for this project, I discovered that the racially-motivated hate crime rate has increased within the last decade, hence the title: “10 Years.” I wrote the song from my own perspective regarding not just the racial violence in my country, but also racism I have experienced myself.

Q. In what ways did you have to think outside the box to create this piece? 

A. One way I had to think outside of the box on this project was my word choice. I decided that such a serious topic deserved to be presented in a very straightforward and potentially harsh manner. I figured that if anyone felt uncomfortable reading or listening to this piece, I did my job by giving people an accurate insight as to how cruel and real racism is.

Q. What roles did your peers play in developing this project? 

A. Dr. Karunanayake encouraged me to submit my work to the Phoenix Rhetorix. In addition to his support, my mother always tells me how exceptional my work is and how I should work ten times harder than I currently am to achieve the success I desire. Another reason I decided to publish my work is my father, who tells me to put my time and effort into every opportunity that presents itself.

Q. What advice would you give to students who are currently enrolled in ENG 1100, might want to complete a similar project, or are interested in publishing in Phoenix Rhetorix?

A. To any students enrolled in ENG1100, or those looking to submit work in Phoenix Rhetorix, you should try to include your own thoughts and emotions in your work. I’m not saying to make it all about you, but providing people with a more personal perspective will attract more attention and it will allow the audience to build a personal connection to your ideas.

ENG 1100 Faculty Interview: Dinidu Karunanayake (he/him)

Q. How do you see Shreyas’s piece contributing to Elon’s ongoing conversations regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion? 

A. At the heart of any DEI conversation is a call for proactive and ethical engagement with the world we live in together with a cultivation of an intercultural, global consciousness. Shreyas, a music major, thinks across disciplinary borders to reach out to a larger public audience to make a compelling case. He invents a powerful rhetorical argument to prick our conscience and confront us with a reality that we should not take for granted.

Q. How did Shreyas use creativity when working on this project? Did he try anything you’ve never seen before? 

A. Shreyas is a music production major, and making music is what he does. He tends to be a quiet student in class, but his voice is quite loud and clear in his craft. I have seen similar remediations before, but his work really is unique and different.

Q. What advice did you give Shreyas during the writing and editing process? What advice might you give students who want to complete a similar project or submit work to Phoenix Rhetorix? 

A. I advised him to put himself in the shoes of a member of his respective target audience. Therefore, he had to think like the researcher/creator and the audience synchronously. Furthermore, in the classroom, I advise all students to keep the ethical aspect in mind at every stage of composition. This helps them to be careful in using secondary sources, thoughtful when engaging with experiences they do not personally share, and accountable for their own writing process.

Q. What do you love about teaching ENG1100?

A. Before I was trained to teach literature, my graduate program (when I was a graduate teaching assistant) initially trained me as a composition instructor. Even though I did not recognize it then, this training significantly impacted my pedagogy for the past ten years. So, the first-year writing class has a special place in my heart. ENG 1100 is one of the most significant pedagogical spaces where students learn the fundamental and significant skills of composition, research, ethics, individual and collective accountability. It changes their attitude to writing, thinking, and research. No matter what the students decide to major in, this is a vital classroom that gives them the necessary tools to succeed in academia. I love being part of that teaching environment.