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I don’t respect killers, I respect O.G. knowledge,
Codes of the streets got new rules, but no guidance.
Lessons, detrimental to a young disciple;
Folks, take care of your brothers, niggas do as I do.
Keep your enemies close, where they can see you.
It’s not your enemy who get you, it’s always your own people.
Nas, “In Between Us,” from Scarface’s The Fix, 2002
…Cops just surrounding me with pistols everywhere.
They put me in the backseat of their car handcuffed,
Pushed out them chests like they’re big rough and tough.
A cop come and said ‘You’ll never sell your guns now.’
I said ‘It doesn’t matter, you’ll sell them anyhow.
You take the guns from me, you sell them for a fee;
Anyway you put it, they’ll get in the city!’
KRS-One, “100 Guns,” from Boogie Down Productions’ Edutainment, 1990
Yo, where the teachers went, with all that pro-black shit?
Where all the conscious niggas, who used to chat like this?
See, I remember yesterday when y’all was Gods and Earths,
Egyptians and metaphysicists on the verge of giving birth
To Understanding, and planting seeds that grow.
Now everybody’s on that bullshit about killing and so.
Wise Intelligent, “Conscious Style,” The New World Order, 1996

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.”

Rakim, “What’s On Your Mind,” from Eric B. & Rakim’s Don’t Sweat the Technique, 1992

The poor get worked, the rich get richer,
The world gets worse, do you get the picture?
The poor gets dead, the rich get depressed,
The ugly get mad, the pretty get stressed.
The ugly get violent, the pretty get gone,
The old get stiff, the young get stepped on.

Whoever told you that “it was all good” lied,
So throw your fists up if you not satisfied.

J-Live, “Satisfied,” All of the Above, 2002
I find it’s distressin’, there’s never no in-between:
We either niggaz or kings,
We either bitches or queens.
The deadly ritual seems immersed in the perverse,
Full of short attention spans, short tempers, and short skirts.
Mos Def, “Thieves in the Night,” from Black Star’s Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star, 1998