Every time I write these words they become a taboo,
Making sure my punctuation curve, every letter here’s true,
Living my life in the margin, and that metaphor was proof.
Kendrick Lamar, “Poetic Justice,” good kid, m.A.A.d city, 2012
Rhymes so def, rhymes rhymes galore,
Rhymes that you’ve never even heard before.
Now if you say you heard my rhyme, we gonna have to fight,
‘Cause I just made the muthafuckas up last night!
Run, “Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse),” from Run-DMC’s Run-DMC, 1984
A day to God is a thousand years,
Men walk around with a thousand fears.
The true joy of love brings a thousand tears,
In the world of desire, there’s a thousand snares.
RZA, “A Day to God is 1000 Years,” Birth of a Prince, 2003
If you go platinum, it’s got nothing to do with luck,
It just means that a million people are stupid as fuck.
Immortal Technique, “Industrial Revolution,” Revolutionary Vol. 2, 2003
The snake, the rat, the cat, the dog…
How you gonna see ‘em if you livin’ in the fog?
DMX, “Damien,” It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, 1998
Those who flashin’ don’t blast, they still buffoons,
Just blowin out hot air, they should fill balloons.
I’m like them shorties that could kill for goons,
They started hustlin’ in April to cop wheels in June.
Elzhi, “Mt. Everest,” from U-God’s The Keynote Speaker, 2013
And as for the critics, tell me I don’t get it.
Everybody can tell you how to do it, they never did it.
Jay-Z, “Already Home,” The Blueprint 3, 2009
My days getting shorter, my nights getting longer,
My cell getting smaller, my son getting taller.
I exercise my mind, my body getting stronger,
But my blood getting colder, heart getting harder.
My chances for appeal getting slimmer,
My skin getting brighter, my hair getting thinner.
See, when you stressed out, you could age fast in here,
I done seen weak niggas not last a year.
So before lights out, I write my kids every night,
Kiss the stamp on the kite,
And say a prayer…I hope it lands safe in these flights,
I pray they sleep safe through the night.
Try to teach my son right, give him some jewels,
But it’s hard to raise my boy from this visiting room.
Many cells turned to prisoner’s tombs,
I just pray I don’t die in here,
And last night I almost cried a tear.
Beanie Sigel, “Have Mercy,” from Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, 2009
When I get involved, I give it my heart,
I mean my mind, my soul, my body: I mean every part.
But if it doesn’t work out, yo, it just doesn’t.
It wasn’t meant to be, you know, it just wasn’t.
MC Lyte, “Paper Thin,” Lyte as a Rock, 1988
I’m a street genius with a unique penis,
Got fly chicks on my dick that don’t even speak English.
Big L, “Da Graveyard,” Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, 1995
If I wasn’t in the rap game,
I’d probably have a key knee-deep in the crack game.
Because the streets is a short stop:
Either you’re slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.
The Notorious B.I.G., “Things Done Changed,” Ready to Die, 1994
Perm in your hair or even a curly weave,
Wichya New Edition Bobby Brown button on your sleeve.
I tell you come here, you say, ‘Meet me half way,’
Cause brothers been popping that game all day.
LL Cool J, “Around the Way Girl,” Mama Said Knock You Out, 1990
All I see is sissies in magazines smiling…
Whatever happened to wildin’ out and being violent?
Whatever happened to catching a good, old-fashioned, passionate ass whoopin’?
And getting your shoes, coat and your hat tooken?
Eminem, “Marshall Mathers,” The Marshall Mathers LP, 2000
My momma did her part,
But it ain’t her fault that I was born without a heart.
In other words: I’m heartless dude.
I don’t love me…how the fuck I’mma love you?
Scarface, “Born Killer,” Mr. Scarface is Back, 1991
My new shorty got a gymnastic back,
‘87 emerald green on a classic Jag.
She had the cleft palate, I ordered chef’s salad;
She had the club foot, with that little arm,
I couldn’t help but laugh…she ordered Chicken Parm.
Action Bronson, “NaNa,” from Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap, 2013
We live in a society created by an empire
That’s based on terror…welcome to the One World Era,
A complete interruption to your lil’ paltry-ass life,
That you thought you was livin, and what you been given.
Coolio, “The Park, from Slam The Soundtrack, 1998
Others tell like it is, while I tell it how I would like it to be.
Cee-Lo, “The World I Know,” from Slam The Soundtrack, 1998
This thing called rhymin’ is no different than coal minin’;
We both on assignment to unearth the diamond.
Mos Def, “Travellin’ Man,” from DJ Honda’s HII, 1998
They say that love is powerful as cough syrup and Styrofoam.
All I know is I fell asleep and woke up in that Monte Carlo
With the ugly Kardashian…
Lamar, oh, sorry. Yo, we done both set the bar low.
Eminem, “Berzerk,” The Marshall Mathers LP 2, 2013
Mark you for death, won’t even talk that East or West crap.
From Watts to Lefrak, it ain’t where ya from, it’s where’s your gat.
Big Pun, “You Ain’t a Killer,” Capital Punishment, 1998
Anything worth having is hard to keep,
I love you like my coffee, so hot and so sweet.
So, let’s stick it out so we never regret it,
I could forgive the past–but I never forget it.
Ghostface Killah, “You Know I’m No Good (Remix),” More Fish, 2006
I don’t understand the difficulty, people;
Love your brother, treat him as an equal.
Heavy D., “Self Destruction,” Stop The Violence All-Stars, 1989
Redman ready to rock rough rhymes,
Renegade rapper, rip when it’s rhyme time.
Punk push a pen and pencil when I’m pissed,
Pack pistol posse, flow some more pro shit.
Redman, “Hardcore,” from EPMD’s Business as Usual, 1990
Your whole appearance is a lie and it could never be true.
And if you really loved yourself, then you would try and be you.
Phife, “Butter,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, 1991
What is competition? I’m tryna raise the bar high,
Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive
Out the exit window of 5 G5’s with 5 grand
With your granddad as the pilot he drunk as fuck tryna land
With the hand full of arthritis and popping prosthetic leg
Bumpin Pac in the cockpit so the shit that pops in his head
Is an option of violence, someone heard the stewardess said
That your parachute is a latex condom hooked to a thread.
Kendrick Lamar, “Control,” from Big Sean’s Hall of Fame, 2013
I’ve seen niggas transform like villain Decepticons,
Mollies’ll prolly turn these niggas to fuckin’ Lindsay Lohan.
A bunch of rich ass white girls lookin’ for parties,
Playin with Barbies, wreck the Porsche before you give ‘em the car key.
Kendrick Lamar, “Control,” from Big Sean’s Hall of Fame, 2013
Bummy nigga famous, straight from the bottom,
Broke niggas hate it, still never robbed ‘em.
Guns in the basement, out they have a problem,
Kush be my fragrance, we love marijuana.
ScHoolboy Q, “Collard Greens,” Oxymoron, 2013
I got a girl and she treat me fine,
But the homies all think that I’m losin’ my mind.
I’m trippin’ and I know it cause I’m all nerved up,
Cause everytime I go to sleep, I see this big ol’ butt.
See, I ain’t never gave no chick 4 stars,
But she treat me so good that she be drivin my car.
And every day it get better, I can’t lie,
Went to the house and she made me some hot potato pie.
All my friends be sayin, “She ain’t nothin but a scrub!”
But she make me feel high like I’m hooked on drugs.
So I give her what she need, and what’s done is done,
But I’m a special kind of fool but ayo, it don’t bother me none.
I can’t help myself, I know that I’m trippin’,
But she got it goin’ on like Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Pimp C, “Use Me Up,” from UGK’s Too Hard to Swallow, 1992
It seem like everybody dress tight now,
And I just want my credit.
Kanye West, “Gifted,” from N.A.S.A.’s The Spirit of Apollo, 2009
What you base your happiness around?
Material, women, and large paper?
That means you inferior, not major.
Nas, “No Idea’s Original,” The Lost Tapes, 2002
You can’t take the heat, get ya ass out the kitchen
Matter fact, take ya ass back in there and wash the dishes.
Royce Da 5’9", “Deadly Melody,” from Black Milk’s Album of the Year, 2010
Food for thought, so get a buffet plate.
The lyrics are so fat you might gain weight.
Doodlebug, “Where I’m From,” from Digable Planets’ Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space, 1993
I wish I didn’t get searched when I come through customs.
I wish Christians stop beefin’ with Muslims,
Wish the poor didn’t have to take welfare,
Wish America had universal health care…
Cause ain’t no help here.
Edo G., “Wishing,” My Own Worst Enemy, 2004
Though the meek shall inherit the earth, but don’t forget:
The poor are the ones who inherit the debt.
Posdnuos, “The Grind Date,” from De La Soul’s The Grind Date, 2004
Trapped on a planet of pain and perpetrators
That you call ‘Earth,’ but I call ‘Hell’s Equator.’
MF Grimm, “Emotions,” Scars & Memories, 2005
The mind is a terrible thing to waste.
I show love cause it’s a terrible thing to hate.
Guru, “Peace of Mine,” from Gang Starr’s The Ownerz, 2003
The first lady in my life, but now you’re gone,
I learned through the years to keep carrying on.
Your picture brings me tears and memories,
The way things could be…and they should be, but they’re not.
Afrika Baby Bam, “All I Think About Is You,” from Jungle Brothers’ J. Beez Wit The Remedy, 1993
Guns and the sneakers made Jada.
The bitches and the reefer came later
With the money and the haters.
Jadakiss, “Jada’s Got a Gun,” Kiss the Game Goodbye, 2001
Don’t sell yourself to fall in love,
With those things you do…
J Dilla, “Fall in Love,” from Slum Village’s Fantastic Vol 2., 2000
I circumnavigate the globe with a one-liner like latitude.
Ras Kass, “Riiiot!” from Chino XL’s Here to Save You All, 1996
I live by the beat like you live check to check.
If you don’t move your feet then I don’t eat,
So we like neck to neck.
André Benjamin, “Elevators (Me & You),” from Outkast’s ATLiens, 1996
To all the seeds that follow me,
Protect your essence.
Born with less, but you still precious,
Just smile for me now.
2Pac, “Smile,” from Scarface’s The Untouchable, 1997
I’m surrounded by psychopathic little fellas,
Ghetto dwellas, with ammunition in their cellas,
And no remorse in their hearts
When the shit starts it don’t end…
Until somebody’s gone with the wind.
Masta Ace, “Maintain,” Sittin on Chrome EP, 1995
Life can change your directions, even when you ain’t planned it.
All you can do is handle it, worst thing you can do is panic.
T.I., “No Matter What,” The Paper Trail, 2008
I wanna just take this time out to be perfectly honest;
Cause there’s a lotta shit I keep bottled that hurts deep inside of my soul,
And just know that I grow colder the older I grow.
This boulder on my shoulder gets heavy and harder to hold,
And this load is like the weight of the world and I think my neck is breaking,
Should I just give up or try to live up to these expectations?
Eminem, “Hailie’s Song,” The Eminem Show, 2002
I don’t mind you talkin shit, just keep it in the first person.
El-P, “89.9 Detrimental,” from Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus, 1997
Know the shit I don’t write be the illest shit that’s ever been recited in the game,
Word to the hyphen in my name!
Jay Z, “The Watcher 2,” The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse, 2002. Jay Z dropped the hyphen today.
I got mouths to feed,
Unnecessary beef is more cows to breed.
GZA, “4th Chamber,” Liquid Swords, 1995
Rappers act so wild, and love to profile,
Frontin’ hard, but ain’t got no style.
Big Daddy Kane, “Smooth Operator,” It’s a Big Daddy Thing, 1989