Now he from the BX, but he really soft,
And he from BK, but his guns don’t go off.
He from cop-killer Queens, but he still getting robbed,
And he from money-makin, but he ain’t on his job.
Now he from LA, but he’s scared to bang,
And he from Texas, but he will do the damn thing.
He’d stay in VA, but he is scared of the streets,
And he’s from Chi, but he’s sweet as a peach.
Keith Murray, “They Tell Me,” from EPMD’s We Mean Business, 2008
Thanks to Reaganomics, prisons turned to profits,
Cause free labor is the cornerstone of US economics.
Slavery was abolished, unless you are in prison,
You think I am bullshitting? Then read the 13th Amendment.
Involuntary servitude and slavery it prohibits,
That’s why they giving drug offenders time in double digits.
To increase your life line, strengthen your heart.
Eat fish…that brain food will get you smart.
Yoga…deep meditational tactics,
You no good? Then just practice, cause practice makes perfect.
Stop burying your lies, and bring the truth to the surface.
Christmas is over and this is my resolution:
To stop the confusion.
Let the fresh get fresh, and the stale get staler
And throw em in a pail of
Trash…with the other trash, and smash down the lid,
For all the weak shit they did.
Now what’s the problem?
You ain’t nothin’ like you said on your album.
I thought you was wildin’,
Bustin’ your guns and runnin’ the Island.
You wasn’t violent, you was silent tryin’ to get college credits.
How pathetic…did it to get out of calisthenics.
Big Pun, “Drop It Heavy,” from Show & A.G.’s Full Scale EP, 1998
…That’s when you start to stare at who’s in the mirror,
And see yourself as a kid again, and you get embarrassed.
And I got nothin’ to do but make you look stupid as parents,
You fuckin’ do-gooders; too bad you couldn’t do good at marriage!
Eminem, “Renegade,” from Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, 2001
I took a little trip into a deck of cards:
The Diamond Jack, Joker and the Ace of Spades
Was amazed at greater Cut Creator on the fade.
Then I played cards with the Queen of Clubs,
The Queen of Hearts with me cold fell in love.
As for the Queen of Diamonds, she don’t like men…
Because you know that a diamond is a girl’s best friend.
The double-trouble Spade was named the Deuce,
And the Joker acted stupid, so we gave him the news.
There was 52 cards, and I met everyone
That story is over, but my rhyme ain’t done.
He’s fallin’ apart, but we deny it,
Justifying that half-ass shit he dropped, we always buy it.
When he tell us he a genius, but it’s clearer lately
It’s been hard for him to look into the mirror lately.
There was a time when this nigga was my hero, maybe,
That’s the reason why his fall from grace is hard to take.
‘Cause I believed him when he said his shit was purer and he
The type of nigga swear he real, but all around him’s fake:
The women, the dickriders, you know, the yes men,
Nobody with the balls to say somethin’ to contest him.
So he grows out of control,
Into the person that he truly was all along, it’s startin’ to show.
Damn, wonder what happened?
Maybe it’s my fault for idolizing niggas
Based off the words they be rappin’.
Rip every stage with grace, look right dead in they face,
Live the Tribe principle of havin’ impeccable taste.
Enjoy that breath like that one was your last one left,
If you don’t believe me, there’s truly life after death.
– Q-Tip, “Black Spasmodic,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, 2016
I rap about the Presidential Election and the scandal
And we all watched the nation, as it swallowed
And chalked it up…basically, America, you got fucked.
The media shucked and jived, now we stuck.
– Big Boi, “War,” from OutKast’s Speakerboxxx, 2003
Truth brings light, light refracts off the mirror,
Visions of yourself and error could never be clearer.
The truth is that you ugly…
Not on the outside, but in the inside.
On the outside, you frontin’ you lovely.
– Pharoahe Monch, “The Truth,” Internal Affairs, 1999