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Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest) • “Black Spasmodic” • 2016

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

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
I thank the Lord for every morning he allows me to rise,
And though the sun is shining, there’s a cloud in the sky
Lettin’ me know that at any moment there could be rain.
And as beautiful as life is, there still can be pain.
Down the park, I hear the sirens, just screamin’ away,
And then the inevitable happens, the end of them days,
As sad as it sounds, but that’s the price we all gotta pay.
And the whole world knows God giveth, and will taketh away.
I live and I learn, I sit and watch my cigarette burn
Down to the ash. It reminds me of the now and the past.
I say a little prayer, cause eventually I’ll stand in the path
Of the souls and dark rows that lead to rest.
Scarface, “What Can I Do?,” The Fix, 2002

Eminem • “Rock Bottom” • 1999

My life is full of empty promises and broken dreams…
I’m hopin’ things look up; but there ain’t no job openings.
I feel discouraged, hungry and malnourished,
Living in this house with no furnace, unfurnished.
And I’m sick of workin’ dead end jobs with lame pay,
And I’m tired of bein’ hired and fired the same day.
But fuck it, if you know the rules to the game play,
Cause when we die, we know we all going the same way.

Eminem, “Rock Bottom,” Slim Shady LP, 1999

So lovers of life, don’t keep your hopes up high.
Why? Cause it’s just a matter of time before it’s your turn to die.
But until then, when you stop breathin’,
It’s time to stand up and fight for what you believe in!
Sticky Fingaz, “2 Wrongz,” from Onyx’s All We Got Iz Us,  1995
I don’t see the world as you see it.
I see it as a game, and my aim is to complete it.
What you live for is what you die for:
To make a little name, grab some fame and the high score.
Murs, “Ice Cream Mountain,” from McKenzie Eddy’s Slow Your Horse Down, Son, 2011