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
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
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.
Excuse us for the news,
You might not be amused;
But did you know White comes from Black?
No need to be confused.
Chop suey don’t do me no good,
I gotta have corn beef and cabbage if I wanna manage.
I never eat pig, but I’ll fuck up a potato,
I’m not a dago, but pasta’s all that.
Many have forgotten what we came here for,
Never knew or had a clue, so you’re on the floor.
Just growin’ not known’ about your past…
Now you’re lookin’ pretty stupid while you’re shakin’ your ass.
Tried to put shame in my game to make a name,
I’mma put it on a bullet…put it in your brain.
About those other Jennys I reckoned with,
Lost them all like a homework excuse.
This time, the Magic Number is two,
Cause it takes two, not three, to seduce.
My destiny of love is brought to an apex,
Sex is a mere molecule.
In this world of love that I have for you
It’s true…Eye know I love you better.
I clock G’s while you clock Z’s.
And I don’t smoke crack…I smoke MC’s.
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.
Elvis was a hero to most,
But he never meant shit to me, you see.
Straight up racist that sucker was,
Simple and plain…
Motherfuck him AND John Wayne.
Though the meek shall inherit the earth, but don’t forget:
The poor are the ones who inherit the debt.
No matter what the name, we’re all the same pieces in one big chess game.
Burn, Hollywood, burn, I smell a riot goin’ on,
First they’re guilty, now they’re gone!
…About those other Jennys I reckoned with
Lost them all like a homework excuse.
This time the Magic Number is Two,
‘Cause it takes two, not three, to seduce.
Comin’ from the school of hard knocks,
Some perpetrate…they drink Clorox.
Attack the black, cause I know they lack exact
The cold facts, and still they try to Xerox.
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.
EPMD in effect, I’m clockin’ mad green
Like Kermit the Frog, sloppy like Boss Hog,
Girl was runnin’ wild…ate her like a corn dog.
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.”