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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
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

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

Grand Puba (Brand Nubian) • “Slow Down” • 1990

As the jewels jingle from the hot young and single little stunt,
A forty and a blunt…that’s all she really wants.
But she’ll spend your papes, and she’ll use up all your plastic.
And if you swing an ep, you’d better wear a prophylactic
Cause things are getting drastic…
Slide up in the wrong one, you’ll end up in a casket.

Grand Puba, “Slow Down,” from Brand Nubian’s One For All, 1990

Keith Murray • “They Tell Me” • 2008

Now he from the BX, but he really soft,
And he from BK, but his guns don’t go off.
He from cop-killer Queens, but he still getting robbed,
And he from money-makin, but he ain’t on his job.
Now he from LA, but he’s scared to bang,
And he from Texas, but he will do the damn thing.
He’d stay in VA, but he is scared of the streets,
And he’s from Chi, but he’s sweet as a peach.

Keith Murray, “They Tell Me,” from EPMD’s We Mean Business, 2008

You know, I used to be a player…flygirl-layer and a heartbreaker,
Lovemaker, backbreaker, but then I made a mistake.
Yes, I fell in love with this ill chick,
Sweatin’ me for money, my name and the dilsnick.
My homeboys told me drop her cause it would be to my benefit;
She used to say I’d better quit hanging with those derelicts.
Guru, “Ex Girl to the Next Girl,” from Gang Starr’s Daily Operation, 1992. More from Guru…
Always knew that I would clock G’s,
But welcome to McDonald’s: May I take your order, please?
Gotta serve ya food that might give you cancer,
Cuz my son doesn’t take no for an answer.
Now I pay taxes that you never give me back;
What about diapers, bottles, and Similac?
Do I have to sell me a whole lotta crack
For decent shelter and clothes on my back?
Ice Cube, “A Bird in the Hand,” Death Certificate, 1991. More from Cube…
They say the richest 400 Americans make more
Than the other 180 million combined,
And if that sounds fair, then you’re out of your mind.
So fuck a Republican, I’m out on my grind,
Cause being poor, being black, and Latino’s a crime.
That’s why we use the underworld to survive,
And I hate to admit I connive, but I’m alive cause I strive.
Make a dollar out a nickel and dime
I’m a hustler, I’m a hustler…
I could sell pussy to prostitutes, you a customer.
Ras Kass, “Stone Cold Hustler,” from Semi Hendrix’s Breakfast at Banksy’s, 2015. More from Ras Kass…