Tell the truth:
James Brown was old,
Til Eric B. and Rakim came out with ‘I Got Soul.’
Let’s travel at magnificent speeds around the universe
What could you say as the Earth gets further and further away
Planets are small as balls of clay
Astray into the Milky Way, world’s outasight
Far as the eye can see, not even a satellite
Now stop and turn around and look
As you stare in the darkness, your knowledge is took!
So keep starin’ soon you suddenly see a star
You better follow it, cause it’s the R.
I start to think, and then I sink
Into the paper…like I was ink.
When I’m writing I’m trapped in between the lines,
I escape when I finish the rhyme…
I got soul.
Rakim, “I Know I Got Soul”, Paid in Full, 1987
I guess nobody told you a little knowledge is dangerous,
It can’t be mixed, diluted, it can’t be changed or switched.
Here’s a lesson if you’re guessing and borrowing:
Hurry, hurry step right up and keep following the leader.
I wouldn’ta came and said my name and run some weak shit,
Puttin’ blurbs and slurs and words that don’t fit
In a rhyme, why waste time on the microphone?
I take this more serious than just a poem.
Rockin’ party to party, backyard to yard,
I tear it up y’all…and bless the mic for the Gods.
Whoever underestimated, still waited,
Pumping the radio, finally they played it.
You wondered how come the album was late?
I was giving you time to get the last one straight.
Attention! Follow directions real close:
Keep out of reach of children, beware of overdose.
Too many milligram, but what made a iller jam?
My rhyme is the rhythm of thoughts that kill a man.
Ideas for the ear to fear, might split ‘em;
He’ll never forget ’em…he’ll rest in peace wit ’em.
At least when he left he’ll know what hit ’em:
The last breath of the words of death was ‘The Rhythm.’
The scene of a crime every night at the show,
The fiend of a rhyme on the mic that you know.
It’s only one capable; breaks, the unbreakable.
Melodies, unmakable; pattern, unescapable.
Tried to put shame in my game to make a name,
I’mma put it on a bullet…put it in your brain.
I came in the door, I said it before
I never let the mic magnetize me no more.
But it’s biting me, fighting me, inviting me to rhyme,
I can’t hold it back…I’m looking for the line.
Taking off my coat, clearing my throat,
My rhyme will be kicking until I hit my last note.
I’m so Rakim and Eric. B, bitches check out my melody.
I might Slick Rick on a fella…catch me a felony.
I might Shyne Po a ho…POW! Catch me a case.
Producto must have rolled the L because this blunt feels laced.
It’s been a long time…I shouldn’t have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to.
I go to Queens for queens to get the crew from Brooklyn,
Make money in Manhattan and never been tooken.
Go Uptown and the Bronx to boogie down,
Get strong on the Island, recoup, and lay around.
It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.
Some of you been trying to write rhymes for years,
But weak ideas irritate my ears.
Is this the best that you can make?
Cause if not, and you got more…I’ll wait.
It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to.
Think of how many weak shows you slept through…
Time’s up, I’m sorry I kept you.
I wake you up and as I stare in your face, you seem stunned.
Remember me? The one you got your idea from?
I seen her in the subway, on my way to Brooklyn.
“Hello, good lookin, is this seat tooken?”
On the A Train, pickin at her brain,
I couldn’t get her number, I couldn’t get her name.
I said, “I still like your style and fashion,
But I hate your hot sadiddy attitude wit a passion.
Is it because brothers like to hawk a lot?
Is it because your sign don’t talk a lot?”
She turned away, no play, I said, “OK,
You don’t really look good, I hope you have a bad day.”
I ain’t no joke, I used to let the mic smoke,
Now I slam it when I’m done and make sure it’s broke.