Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

Marvin Gaye

About Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)", often shortened to "Inner City Blues", is a song by Marvin Gaye, released as the third and final single from and the climactic song of his 1971 landmark album, What's Going On. Written by Gaye and James Nyx Jr., the song depicts the ghettos and bleak economic situations of inner-city America, and the emotional effects these have on inhabitants.


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Rockets, moon shots
Spend it on the have nots
Money, we make it
Fore we see it you take it
Oh, make you wanna holler
The way they do my life
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
This ain't livin'
This ain't livin'
No, no baby, this ain't livin'
No, no, no

Inflation no chance
To increase finance
Bills pile up sky high
Send that boy off to die
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life

Hang ups, let downs
Bad breaks, set backs
Natural fact is
I can't pay my taxes
Oh, make me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands
Yea, it makes me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands

Crime is increasing
Trigger happy policing
Panic is spreading
God knows where
We're heading
Oh, make me wanna holler
They don't understand
Make me wanna holler
They don't understand

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Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye (April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984), born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr., was an American singer-songwriter and musician whose career spanned more than two decades. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., he was the son of a storefront minister of a local Pentecostal church sect and grew up singing gospel in church revivals as a young child. Gaye branched out into secular music as a teenager, joining the doo-wop group The Marquees, after returning from an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force, before the group was hired by Harvey Fuqua to be Harvey & The Moonglows. Following the band's separation in 1960, Gaye began working as a session drummer for the Detroit music label, Anna, before signing with Motown Records in 1961, adding an "e" to his s… more »

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Written by: Marvin Gaye, James Nyx

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

26 facts about this song

Artist and Release
"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" is a song by American soul singer Marvin Gaye, released in 1971.
It is the final track on Gaye's landmark album, "What's Going On."
Music Genre
The song is categorized under the Soul and R&B genre.
Chart Performance
Upon its release, "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #1 on the R&B chart.
Social Message
The song addresses social and political issues, painting a grim picture of the urban decay and desolation in the inner cities of America at that time.
Marvin Gaye co-wrote "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" with James Nyx Jr., a Motown songwriter.
Unique Sound Elements
The song is notable for its distinctive bass line and percussion, which set the tone for the passionately delivered lyrics.
Cover Versions
Over the years, several artists have covered "Inner City Blues," including Grover Washington Jr., who earned a Grammy nomination for his rendition in 1972.
Marvin Gaye was reportedly inspired to write the song after observing the poverty and struggle of the people who lived in the urban neighborhoods of America.
"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" has had a lasting impact on music and culture, with Rolling Stone ranking the song at #276 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Notable Lyrics
The song's chorus, "Make me wanna holler / The way they do my life," is often acknowledged for its simple yet poignant commentary on social issues.
The song and its album "What's Going On" are considered milestones in the development of the subgenre of “message-oriented” soul music.
Film Connection
"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" has been used in various film soundtracks, reflecting the song's continuing cultural relevance.
Live Performances
Marvin Gaye performed the song on television programs like "Soul Train" and in major concerts, making it an essential part of his live repertoire.
Release Details
"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" was released by Motown Records on September 16, 1971. It was the third and final single from Marvin Gaye's album "What's Going On."
Song Composition
The song was co-written by Marvin Gaye and James Nyx, a songwriter known for his work with the Motown label. Although Nyx wasn't initially credited for his contributions, it was cleared up later.
Critical Acclaim
The song enjoyed great success. It peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and topped the R&B Singles chart for two weeks in 1971. It was also praised by critics for its socially conscious and poignant lyrics.
Lyrics Inspiration
"Inner City Blues" reflected the harsh realities of the inner city life that Marvin Gaye had witnessed. It touched upon social issues like police brutality, inflation, and unemployment. The song's closing refrain "Make Me Wanna Holler" represented an emotional and primal outlet against these societal ills.
Instrumental Composition
The use of unconventional materials for percussion, like a can of spray paint, gives the song a distinct sound and highlights its urban themes.
Cover Versions
"Inner City Blues" was covered by several noted musicians across various genres, including Gil Scott-Heron, Grover Washington Jr., and Etta James. Moreover, its instrumental was sampled by numerous hip hop artists like "A Tribe Called Quest" and "Ice Cube."
Cultural Influence
The song is an important piece in the context of American music history. It’s regarded as one of the most iconic examples of a politically charged track, reflecting the turbulence and social unrest during the 70s.
Impact on Marvin Gaye's Career
"Inner City Blues" cemented Marvin Gaye's reputation as an artist unafraid to tackle political and social problems in his music.
Music Video
Although the song was released in 1971, its official music video was released much later in 2019. The video gives a visual depiction of the themes in the song.
"Inner City Blues" is often considered a defining song of Marvin Gaye's career and soul music in general. It continues to resonate with listeners even decades after its release.
In Media
The song has been featured several times in television shows and movies. It was recently heard in the 2017 film "Detroit," which takes place during the 1967 Detroit riots.
Awards and Accolades
Marvin Gaye won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for his contribution to the music industry, which included his groundbreaking song "Inner City Blues."

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    Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

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    Top Hot 100 Songs 1971

    Billboard #9



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