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
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
There’s four developing stages in the art of hip-hop,
And most of them developed from the snap, crackle and pop.
The first was the usage of an actual band,
The second was a drum machine made by a man,
The third was the human beatbox and percussion,
The fourth in line was samplin’ and the book of rhyme bustin’.
Afrika Baby Bam, “Book of Rhyme Pages,” from The Jungle Brothers’ J Beez Wit The Remedy, 1993. More from the Jungle Brothers…
I start thinking:
How many souls hip-hop has affected?
How many dead folks this art resurrected?
How many nations this culture connected?
Who am I to judge one’s perspective?
Common, “6th Sense,” Like Water for Chocolate, 2000. More from Common…
Rap is like a set-up…a lot of games,
A lot of suckers with colorful names.
‘I’m so-and-so,’ ‘I’m this, I’m that.’
But they all just wick-wick-wack.
KRS-One, “My Philosophy,” from BDP’s By All Means Necessary, 1988. More from KRS…
I never rapped on an R&B record, and I never will.
I got these phony muthafuckas talkin bout ‘Let’s keep it real.’
But they don’t know how to take they own advisement,
Going out, do it solo on an advertisement, commercializing.
Fuckin’ sell out, nigga…this is hip-hop, not fashion.
B-Real, “Strictly Hip-Hop,” from Cypress Hill’s III: Temples of Boom, 1995. More quotes from Cypress Hill >
What the fuck happened to reality-spitting rhyme sayers?
These days, everybody trying to be a thug or a player.
Where did all the real motherfuckers go in the game?
Bring back the breakdancers and graffiti writers with fame.
Immortal Technique, “Revolutionary,” Revolutionary Vol. 1, 2001. More from Immortal Technique >
I said ‘Whoa, little hottie,
I’m not DeLorean, Gambino or Gotti.
I don’t deal coke,
And furthermore you’re making me broke.
I’ll put you in a rehab and I won’t tell your folks.’
And what do you know,
In 18 months she came home,
And I let her back in…
And now she’s sniffing again.
Smooth B., “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow,” from Nice & Smooth’s Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed, 1991.
If sleep is the cousin of death, then death is the cousin of sadness;
Murder’s the cousin of madness, love is the cousin of that bitch.
Ill Bill, “Secrets Worth Dying For,” from DJ Muggs & Ill Bill’s Kill Devil Hills, 2010
Believers of Jesus be denouncing Satan on every level,
But every Halloween they’re dressin’ like devils.
KRS-One, “Higher Level,” Return of the Boom Bap, 1993
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.
Killer Mike, “Twin Hype Back,” Run the Jewels, 2013
What’s better than tripping is falling in love.
What’s better than Letterman, Leno, Fallon, and all the above?
What’s better than popping bottles trying to ball in the club?
Is the first caveman pops with his son, ball and a club.
What’s better than paper is balling it up.
What’s better than followers is actually falling in love.
What’s better than frolicking, follies, fallin in mud?
Rolling in green pastures, wandering, following love.
What’s better than eating is feeding your fam.
What’s better than meetings is missing meetings to meet with your fam.
What’s better than leaning and needing your Xan?
Is hitting your zan dreaming a dream could mean leaving the land.
What’s better than yelling is hollering love.
What’s better than rhymes, nickles, dimes, dollars, and dubs?
Is dialing up your darling just for calling her up.
There ain’t nothing better than falling in love.
Chance the Rapper, “Interlude (That’s Love),” Acid Rap, 2013
We ain’t speak, clicking heat is our Morse code.
Ka, “Jungle,” Night’s Gambit, 2013
A letter to you suckers,
Each and every one of you duck muthafuckas…
Your girl puckers her lips, so I stuck her.
Kool G. Rap, “Jive Talk,” from Kool G. Rap and DJ Polo’s Wanted: Dead or Alive, 1990
This game is lame, the music comes second
So you can save that stupidness for all them artists you checkin.
Popularity don’t last long, I’m in it for classics,
Cause the other side of the biz is fake and it’s plastic.
Craig G., “Classic Personified,” Ramblings of an Angry Old Man, 2012
Make a radio hit: heads criticize it.
Underground classic? Nobody buys it.
So, rap is fucked…
And everything blowing up sounds redundant,
But money talks and bullshit does 9 flat in the 100.
Ras Kass, “Reelishymn,” Soul On Ice, 1996
We missed a lot of church, so the music is our confessional.
Big Boi, “Aquemini,” from Outkast’s Aquemini, 1998
I’ve been layin’, waiting for your next mistake,
I put in work, and watch my status escalate.
Guru, “Work,” from Gang Starr’s Moment of Truth, 1998
MCs get a little bit of love and think they hot,
Talkin bout how much money they got…all y’all records sound the same.
I’m sick of that fake thug, R&B-rap scenario, all day on the radio,
Same scenes in the video, monotonous material.
…Y’all don’t hear me though:
These record labels slang our tapes like dope.
You can be next in line and signed, and still be writing rhymes and broke.
stic.man, “Hip-Hop,” from Dead Prez’s Let’s Get Free, 2000
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
No matter what the name, we’re all the same pieces in one big chess game.
Chuck D., “Rebel Without a Pause,” from Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, 1988
Burn, Hollywood, burn, I smell a riot goin’ on,
First they’re guilty, now they’re gone!
Chuck D., “Burn, Hollywood, Burn,” from Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet, 1990
Nowadays, the game is all bugged out,
Phony, like back when Hammer tried to come thugged out.
MF Doom, “Foolish,“ from MF Grimm’s Downfall of Ibliys: A Ghetto Opera, 2002
If you love someone, you should say it often,
You never know when they’ll be layin’ in a coffin.
Wake up, it’s important that you know that
No one on Earth is promised tomorrow.
MC Lyte, “Poor Georgie,” Act Like You Know, 1991
It’s the principle of it, I get a rush when I bust
Some dope lines oral, that maybe somebody’ll quote.
That’s what I consider real in this field of music,
Instead of puttin’ brain cells to work, they abuse it.
Everybody’s either crime-related or sexual.
For those who pose lyrical, but really ain’t true, I feel:
Their time’s limited, hard rocks too.
O.C., “Time’s Up,” Word…Life, 1994
I drop styles on ears…the public bite ‘em.
Not many went to school, so the dummies wouldn’t write ’em.
They say, “Yo Keith! You’re Kool, you usin’ big words!”
I went to college, I’m even more stupid, herb.
Kool Keith, “Raise It Up,” from Ultramagnetic M.C.’s The Four Horsemen, 1993
We made plans, but we’ll never be able to fulfill ‘em.
This is shit we put together since we was little…
Every time we had dreams, you found a way you could kill ’em.
Kurupt, “Keep it Moving,” from Hi-Tek’s Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip, 2006
Payback’s a bitch, that’s why I never borrow;
And if push comes to shove, I’d do a stickup tomorrow.
Daddy-O, “Inner City Boundaries,” from Freestyle Fellowship’s Innercity Griots, 1993
Everything will eventually come to an end,
So try to savor the moment, cause time flies, don’t it?
The beauty of life, you gotta make it last for the better,
Cause nothin’ lasts forever.
Nas, “Nothing Lasts Forever,” The Lost Tapes, 2002
I ain’t goin out like a spineless jellyfish.
Some say life is a bitch…
Ask that punk who dug his own ditch.
B-Real, “Hand on the Pump,” Cypress Hill’s Cypress Hill, 1991
Who’s that peeking in my window?
Goodie Mob, “Cell Therapy,” Soul Food, 1995
Raise your right palm: We do solemnly swear
To stack more dough more calmly this year.
MF Doom, “Get ‘Er Done,” from Jake One’s White Van Music, 2008