It seems we living the American Dream,
But the people highest up got the lowest self-esteem.
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings.
Kanye West, “All Falls Down,” The College Dropout, 2004
Let me break it down for you again,
You know I only say it because I’m truly genuine:
Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem.
Lauryn Hill, “Doo Wop (That Thing),” The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, 1998
I’d rather stimulate your mind than emulate your purpose.
– Aceyalone, “The Guidelines,” A Book of Human Language, 1998
Penny for your thoughts, a nickel for your dreams
A dime for your goals and a quarter in your jeans
Trying to make a dollar outta forty-one cents
Caught up in the barbed wire, shorty on the fence
– Masta Ace, “Young Black Intelligent (Y.B.I.),” The Falling Season, 2016
Rap is an art, you can’t own no loops.
It’s how you hook ‘em up and the rhyme style, troop.
So don’t even think you could say someone bit
Off your weak beat, come on, you need to quit.
Guru, “Take it Personal,” from Gang Starr’s Daily Operation, 1992
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
Funny what seven days can change…
It was all good just a week ago.
Jay-Z, “A Week Ago,” Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life, 1998
You need to smile a lil’ bit, frown a lil’ less.
Read a couple of books, and then smoke a lil’ sess.
Get your mind right, but don’t OD,
Cause overdoin’ it ain’t doin’ it with quality.
– Posdnuous of De La Soul, “Smile a Lil Bit,” from Oh No’s Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms, 2006
And we started off as kids, stomachs’ touching our ribs,
In them streets all night like we ain’t have nowhere to live.
– Meek Mill, “Cold Hearted,” Dreams Worth More Than Money, 2015
I lost my innocence at birth but I make no excuses
For the trivial things and the pain life induces.
– B-Real, “Bitter,” from Cypress Hill’s Stoned Raiders, 2001
Life is love, heartache and strain,
Yet the strength to overcome it all keeps me sane.
OC, “Gotta Luv It,” from Ray West and OC’s Ray’s Café, 2014
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
I’m not the one to kiss ass for the top position,
I take mine off the top like a politician.
Where I’m from, doin dirt is a part of livin…
I got mouths to feed, I gots to get it.
– Dead Prez, “Hell Yeah (Pimp the System),” RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta, 2004
You can’t raise a man if you ain’t one yourself,
Getting all your cred from the gun on your belt.
– Troy Ave, “Drug Game,” Roland Collins, 2016
We staring in the face of hate again…
The same hate they say will “Make America Great Again.”
No consolation prize for the dehumanized,
For America to rise, it’s a matter of Black Lives.
– Common, “Letter to the Free,” Black America Again, 2016
I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses
Can’t define how I be dropping these mockeries.
Lyrically perform armed robbery,
Flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me…
– Inspectah Deck, “Triumph,” from Wu-Tang Clan’s Wu-Tang Forever, 1997
I’m sautéing emcees with fried rice up in the wok without the MSG and chopped celery.
– Redman, “Da Ill Out,” Muddy Waters, 1996
Survive the droughts? I wish you well.
How sick am I? I wish you health.
I wish you wheels, I wish you wealth,
I wish you insight so you could see for yourself.
– Jay-Z, “American Dreamin,” American Gangster, 2007
God, money, war…
If heaven free, what we kill for money for?
They say, “When it rains it pours,” but it rain on the poor;
So you ain’t really rich if what’s rich ain’t in your core.
– King Los, “God Money War,” God, Money, War, 2015
Not to sound cynical, but all you ever learn in prison is how to be a better criminal.
– Ras Kass, “Shine,” 12″, 2005
I’m like a major threat:
Cause I remind you of the things you were made to forget.
– 2Pac, “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., 1993
Sippin’ on that brown stuff
Got you feeling like you found love,
Or maybe it was just luck.
But honestly…it’s probably none of the above.
– Slug, “Arthur’s Song” from Atmosphere’s Southsiders, 2014.
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
They say I’m so low key, I’m socially awkward,
Only those that really know me are the ones that I talk with.
They smile in the light, hate in the dark,
You call it beef, to me it’s just a fuckin’ walk in the park.
– Nas, “I Do It for Hip-Hop,” from Ludacris’ Theater of the Mind, 2008
Come on, let’s be real:
You only think you can deal.
That’s why i’m holdin’ the steel,
I rock shit to make you feel
Like, damn that looks easy! Maybe I can do it.
So you take a fat beat and put your wack rhymes to it.
And God only knows what can make you pursue it,
For those who can’t dance and clap your hands to it.
– Everlast, “No Doubt,” from House of Pain’s Truth Crushed to Earth Will Rise Again, 1996
Huey, Malcolm and Martin, those are my peers,
They been doin’ niggas like this for over hundreds of years.
Poppin’ us, fear, now it’s time for us to clap back,
But this time we gon’ bust…step the fuck back.
– Snoop Dogg, “Revolution,” COOLAID, 2016
I rob Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Linus and Lucy,
Put coke in the doobie, roll woolies to smoke with Snoopy.
I still remain that dick grabbin’ slacker that spit a loogie,
Cause the toter of the toolie’ll murder you friggin’ Moolie.
– Killer Mike, “Nobody Speak,” from DJ Shadow’s The Mountain Will Fall, 2016
You say Trump don’t kiss ass like a puppet?
‘Cause he runs his campaign with his own cash for the fundin’?
And that’s what you wanted:
A fuckin’ loose cannon who’s blunt with his hand on the button
Who doesn’t have to answer to no one? Great idea!
– Eminem, “Campaign Speech,” 2016
I am a nightmare walking, psychopath talking,
King of my jungle, just a gangster stalking.
– Ice-T, “Colors,” from Colors Soundtrack, 1988
Enunciate well, so that you can tell:
I am not illiterate, no, not even a little bit.
– The D.O.C., “It’s Funky Enough,” No One Can Do It Better, 1989
Microphone checka, swingin’ sword lecture,
Closin’ down the sector, supreme neck protector.
– Method Man, “Da Rockwilder,” from Meth and Red’s Blackout, 1999
They never understood, many people were so slow.
My funky type of rhyme, and my style is pyscho.
– Kool Keith, “Raise It Up,” from Ultramagnetic MC’s The Four Horsemen, 1993
I got bitches in the livin’ room gettin’ it on,
And they ain’t leavin’ till six in the mornin’.
– Snoop Dogg, “Gin and Juice,” Doggystyle, 1993
You need to quit bangin under false pretense,
Cause if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense
– DJ Quik, “Dollaz + Sense,” Safe + Sound, 1995
To try and to fail:
The two things I hate.
Succeed, and this rap game:
The two things that’s great.
– Jay-Z, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” The Blueprint, 2001.
And when I say “stupid,”
I mean “stupid fresh.”
– Beastie Boys, “Hey Ladies,” Paul’s Boutique, 1989
See my life is like a song, I just don’t know the words, So as I try to hum along people say that I’m disturbed. Stare and call me a loon, say I’m singin’ out of tune, But my musics’ got direction so I know what I’m doin’. Don’t know where I’m goin’ but I got to keep movin’, Even if my next step is obscured by the present… Gotta find the next rung on the stairway to heaven.
– MURS, “18 w/a Bullet,” …The End of the Beginning, 2002.
There’s a certain mystique when I speak that you notice,
‘Cause that’s sort of unique…’cause you know it’s me.
My poetry’s deep, and I’m Stillmatic the way I flow to this beat.
You can’t sit still; it’s like trying to smoke crack and go to sleep.
– Eminem, “Love Me,” from 8 Mile Soundtrack, 2002
Life’s a bitch, who are we to judge each other?
I know I got faults, I ain’t the only muthafucka.
– Guru, “No Shame in my Game,” from Gang Starr’s Daily Operation, 1992
To everyone out there who’s a little different:
I say, “Damn a magazine, these is God’s fingerprints.”
You can call me ugly, but can’t take nothing from me;
I am what I am, doctor, you ain’t gotta love me.
Brother Ali, “Forest Whitaker,” Shadows on the Sun, 2003.
I will show you all you need to know.
You must hold on to anyone that wants you,
And I will love you through simple and the struggle.
But girl…you got to understand: the modern man must hustle.
Slug, “Modern Man’s Hustle,” from Atmosphere’s God Loves Ugly, 2002. More from Atmosphere…
I just want to innovate and stimulate minds,
Travel the world and penetrate the times,
Escape through rhythms,
In search of peace and wisdom.
Common, “The 6th Sense,” Like Water for Chocolate, 2000. More from Comm…
My crew’s all about loot.
Fuck looking cute,
I’m strictly Timb boots and Army-certified suits.
Puffin L’s, laid back, enjoying the smell,
In the Bridge, getting down…it ain’t hard to tell.
Havoc, “Survival of the Fittest,” from Mobb Deep’s The Infamous, 1995.
From the bottom of my heart, that’s where the love starts:
The love for breakdancing, my love for the art.
And with this love, I do hip-hop from the soul,
A real MC, who never sweats how many copies are sold.
Yeah, I want to go gold, platinum, et ceteras,
But why put out some wackness when no one will respect ya?
I’m staying true, nuff respect to those that paved the way,
From Bambaata down to Shah (that be my DJ).
Without my peeps, I dont know how the hell I’d make it, word…
Sometimes I feel that my career is headed for the curb.
One love for the lendin’ hand and givin’ all your help,
Believing in me when I didn’t believe in my own self.
The Abstract, with whom I’m always making rugged tunes,
Kid Hood, restin’ in heaven, I hope to see you soon.
Phife Dawg, “Peace, Prosperity, and Paper,” from the High School High soundtrack, 1996. More from the Five Foot Assassin. Rest in power to Malik Taylor, better known as Phife from A Tribe Called Quest. 1970-2016.
Question: Why is that MC’s be wack
And major labels wanna sign that crap?
Phife Dawg, “One Two Shit,” A Tribe Called Quest’s The Love Movement, 1998. More from Phife. Rest in forever peace, Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg, who died Wednesday at the age of 45. 1970-2016.
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. More from Phife. Rest in forever peace, Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg, who died Wednesday at the age of 45. 1970-2016.
I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian.
Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation.
Phife, “Electric Relaxation,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, 1993. More from Phife. Rest in forever peace, Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg, who died Wednesday at the age of 45. 1970-2016.