The line between playing to win and sin is thin,
But I walk it with grace and I talk it with taste.
I am that raw, simply put, and I rest my case.
We brag on havin’ bread, but none of us are bakers.
We all talk havin’ greens, but none of us on acres.
If none of us on acres, and none of us grow wheat,
Then who will feed our people when our people need to eat?
So it seems our people starve from lack of understandin’
Cause all we seem to give them is some ballin’ and some dancin’,
And some talkin’ about our car and imaginary mansions.
We should be indicted for bullshit we inciting,
Havin’ children deaf and pretendin’ it’s exciting.
We are advertisements for agony and pain.
We exploit the youth. We tell them to join a gang.
We tell them dope stories, introduced them to the game.
Destiny made a mistake and gave my fate to someone else.
I am the manifestation of study,
NOT the manifestation of money.
Therefore, I advance through thought,
NOT what’s manufactured and bought.
We can’t complain for this borrowed time;
So don’t misuse yours, cause you can’t borrow mine.
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.
I was always taught my do’s and don’ts:
For do’s I did, and for don’ts, I said I won’t.
Look: if I shoot you, I’m brainless,
But if you shoot me, then you’re famous.
What’s a nigga to do?
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.
We speak the love language, they speak from pain and anguish.
Some don’t love theyselves, so they perception is tainted.
I’d rather die enormous than live dormant.
I’m your Mr., you my Mrs. with hugs and kisses,
Valentine cards and birthday wishes?
Please…be on another level of planning, of understanding
The bond between man and woman and child.
The highest elevation, cause we above
All that romance crap, just show your love.
…I’ve never had a dream in my life,
Because a dream is what you wanna do, but still haven’t pursued.
I knew what I wanted, and did it till it was done.
So I’ve been the dream I wanted to be since Day One.
You can call it hell…
But I say it’s below the heavens.
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death,
We got to fight the powers that be!
I don’t see the world as you see it.
I see it as a game, and my aim is to complete it.
What you live for is what you die for:
To make a little name, grab some fame and the high score.
It’s kinda hard bein humble in the belly of the struggle,
Doin things that probably get you in trouble.
You would rather have a Lexus, or justice?
A dream, or some substance?
A Beamer, a necklace, or freedom?
They say it’s lonely at the top, in whatever you do,
You always gotta watch motherfuckers around you.
Nobody’s invincible, no plan is foolproof,
We all must meet our Moment of Truth.
Am I really just a narcissist,
Cause I wake up to a bowl of lobster bisque?
We all seem to stumble, planning our own demise,
Getting the big picture, and making it wallet-sized.
Take these words home and think it through;
Or the next rhyme I write might be about you.
The sunset looks beautiful over the projects…
What a shame, it ain’t the same where we stand at.
If you look close, you can see the bricks chipped off.
Sometimes niggas miss when they lick off.
When the slugs penetrate, you feel a burning sensation,
Gettin closer to God in a tight situation.
I’m only 19 but my mind is older…
When things get for real, my warm heart turns cold.
I think we all motherfuckin’ hypocrites,
Asking God for life and we ain’t even livin’ it.
Stro Rockets, “From Me,” Grade A Frequencies EP, 2017
Day in and day out we do the same thing,
Tryina find the joy in our repetition.
Always complainin’ about the routine and the mundane.
But let me stop to remind y’all bout one thing:
Come hell or high water you can count on the sun
Always shinin’ in its untamed glory.
So let me explain the game,
Break it down a couple of levels like Tetris:
These young uns kill they own blood for a necklace,
Leave ya slumped over the wheel of ya Lexus,
Smoke kush, wake up and eat breakfast…
…what the fuck you expect?
Some people learn from mistakes and don’t repeat them,
Others try to block the memories and just delete them.
But I keep ‘em as a reminder they’re not killing me,
And I thank God for teaching me humility.
Son, remember when you fight to be free
To see things how they are and not how you like em to be.
Cause even when the world is falling on top of me,
Pessimism is an emotion, not a philosophy.
Knowing what’s wrong doesn’t imply that you right,
And it’s another when you suffer to apply it in life.
But I’m no rookie…
And I’m never gonna make the same mistake twice, pussy.
Some type of grief you must experience
In order to appreciate happiness.
‘Cause if you are always satisfied,
Life will just pass by; you would’ve never tried.
MC Lyte, “Search 4 The Lyte,” Act Like You Know, 1991
It’s time to invent the future, cause there ain’t nobody else
Who can make it happen right, so make it happen for yourself.
Mr. Man, “Gravity,” from Da Bush Babees’ Gravity, 1996
Reality’s really the individual’s mentality;
Some seek eternal life, while others seek fatality.
Juju, “Peace Akki,” from Al’ Tariq’s God Connections, 1996
It’s deep-rooted, the music of being young and dumb,
It’s never muted, in fact, it’s much louder where I’m from.
Kendrick Lamar, “Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter,” good kid, m.A.A.d city, 2012
We love it where we from, but we kick it where we at.
Ladybug Mecca, “It’s Good to Be Here,” from Digable Planets’ Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), 1993
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
Let me break it down for you again,
You know I only say it because I’m truly genuine:
Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem.
Lauryn Hill, “Doo Wop (That Thing),” The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, 1998
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
Life is love, heartache and strain,
Yet the strength to overcome it all keeps me sane.
OC, “Gotta Luv It,” from Ray West and OC’s Ray’s Café, 2014
Survive the droughts? I wish you well.
How sick am I? I wish you health.
I wish you wheels, I wish you wealth,
I wish you insight so you could see for yourself.
– Jay-Z, “American Dreamin,” American Gangster, 2007
I’m like a major threat:
Cause I remind you of the things you were made to forget.
– 2Pac, “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., 1993
Truth brings light, light refracts off the mirror,
Visions of yourself and error could never be clearer.
The truth is that you ugly…
Not on the outside, but in the inside.
On the outside, you frontin’ you lovely.
– Pharoahe Monch, “The Truth,” Internal Affairs, 1999
They say I’m so low key, I’m socially awkward,
Only those that really know me are the ones that I talk with.
They smile in the light, hate in the dark,
You call it beef, to me it’s just a fuckin’ walk in the park.
– Nas, “I Do It for Hip-Hop,” from Ludacris’ Theater of the Mind, 2008
See my life is like a song, I just don’t know the words, So as I try to hum along people say that I’m disturbed. Stare and call me a loon, say I’m singin’ out of tune, But my musics’ got direction so I know what I’m doin’. Don’t know where I’m goin’ but I got to keep movin’, Even if my next step is obscured by the present… Gotta find the next rung on the stairway to heaven.
– MURS, “18 w/a Bullet,” …The End of the Beginning, 2002.
I will show you all you need to know.
You must hold on to anyone that wants you,
And I will love you through simple and the struggle.
But girl…you got to understand: the modern man must hustle.
Your whole appearance is a lie and it could never be true.
And if you really loved yourself, then you would try and be you.
Dope is like a two-way street:
The addiction, both you and me, now take a seat.
Every car got a fleet, every broad get a Jeep,
Every sparkle in the club that wasn’t ours, we compete.
Poor minds, poor decision makers;
No reward…then what’s the risk you taking?