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
My nationality’s reality.
And, yo: a prejudiced man is of a devil mentality.
Kool G. Rap, “Erase Racism,” from Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo’s Wanted: Dead Or Alive, 1990
Rhymes are dynamic, voice is titanic,
Gigantic…suckers get frantic, and then panic.
A smooth talker, ‘cause I’m a Queens New Yorker,
My rhymes bring more Good Times than Jimmie Walker.
Kool G. Rap, “Bad to the Bone,” from Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo’s Wanted: Dead or Alive, 1990
I took a little trip into a deck of cards:
The Diamond Jack, Joker and the Ace of Spades
Was amazed at greater Cut Creator on the fade.
Then I played cards with the Queen of Clubs,
The Queen of Hearts with me cold fell in love.
As for the Queen of Diamonds, she don’t like men…
Because you know that a diamond is a girl’s best friend.
The double-trouble Spade was named the Deuce,
And the Joker acted stupid, so we gave him the news.
There was 52 cards, and I met everyone
That story is over, but my rhyme ain’t done.
LL Cool J, “My Rhyme Ain’t Done,” Bigger and Deffer, 1987
Rip every stage with grace, look right dead in they face,
Live the Tribe principle of havin’ impeccable taste.
Enjoy that breath like that one was your last one left,
If you don’t believe me, there’s truly life after death.
– Q-Tip, “Black Spasmodic,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, 2016
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
My crew’s all about loot.
Fuck looking cute,
I’m strictly Timb boots and Army-certified suits.
Puffin L’s, laid back, enjoying the smell,
In the Bridge, getting down…it ain’t hard to tell.
Havoc, “Survival of the Fittest,” from Mobb Deep’s The Infamous, 1995.
From the bottom of my heart, that’s where the love starts:
The love for breakdancing, my love for the art.
And with this love, I do hip-hop from the soul,
A real MC, who never sweats how many copies are sold.
Yeah, I want to go gold, platinum, et ceteras,
But why put out some wackness when no one will respect ya?
I’m staying true, nuff respect to those that paved the way,
From Bambaata down to Shah (that be my DJ).
Without my peeps, I dont know how the hell I’d make it, word…
Sometimes I feel that my career is headed for the curb.
One love for the lendin’ hand and givin’ all your help,
Believing in me when I didn’t believe in my own self.
The Abstract, with whom I’m always making rugged tunes,
Kid Hood, restin’ in heaven, I hope to see you soon.
Phife Dawg, “Peace, Prosperity, and Paper,” from the High School High soundtrack, 1996. More from the Five Foot Assassin. Rest in power to Malik Taylor, better known as Phife from A Tribe Called Quest. 1970-2016.
Question: Why is that MC’s be wack
And major labels wanna sign that crap?
Phife Dawg, “One Two Shit,” A Tribe Called Quest’s The Love Movement, 1998. More from Phife. Rest in forever peace, Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg, who died Wednesday at the age of 45. 1970-2016.
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.
Phife, “Butter,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, 1991. More from Phife. Rest in forever peace, Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg, who died Wednesday at the age of 45. 1970-2016.
I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian.
Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation.
Phife, “Electric Relaxation,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, 1993. More from Phife. Rest in forever peace, Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg, who died Wednesday at the age of 45. 1970-2016.
Used to have a crush on Dawn from En Vogue.
It’s not like honey dip would wanna get with me,
But just in case I own more condoms than TLC.
Phife Dawg, “Oh My God,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Maruaders, 1993. Rest in forever peace, Malik Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg, who died Wednesday at the age of 45. 1970-2016.
The thing that men and women need to do is stick together,
Progressions can’t be made if we’re separate forever.
Q-Tip, “Verses from the Abstract,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, 1991. More from the Abstract…
Serve the curves, I never swerve I’m superb;
Every word you heard played tricks on your nerves.
LL Cool J, “Jinglin’ Baby (Remixed But Still Jinglin’),” Mama Said Knock You Out, 1990. More from Uncle L…
I’m a beast on the microphone, a night stalker,
A killing machine, a savage street talker,
Jason with an axe, but I put it on wax
To eradicate the suckers who thought I had relaxed.
LL Cool J, “Jack the Ripper,” Walking with a Panther, 1989. More from Uncle L…
Money is the key to end all your woes,
Your ups, your downs, your highs, and your lows.
Won’t you tell me last time love bought your clothes?
Run, “It’s Like That,” from Run-DMC’s self-titled debut, 1984
‘Cause in my physical I can express through song,
Delete stress like Motrin, then extend strong.
I drink Moet with Medusa, give her shotguns in hell
From the spliff that I lift and inhale…it ain’t hard to tell.
Deep like The Shining, sparkle like a diamond,
Sneak a Uzi on the Island in my army jacket lining.
Hit the Earth like a comet…invasion,
Nas is like the Afrocentric Asian: half-man, half-amazing.
It ain’t hard to tell, I excel then prevail,
The mic is contacted, I attract clientele.
My mic check is life or death, breathing a sniper’s breath,
I exhale the yellow smoke of buddha through righteous steps.
Asparagus tips look yummy, yummy, yummy,
Candied yams inside my tummy.
A collage of good eats, some snacks or nice treats,
Apple sauce and some nice red beets.
This is what we snack on when we’re questin’.
Q-Tip and Phife, “Ham n’ Eggs,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1990. More from ATCQ…
Back in the days was kinda crazy, kid: I started out with nothin’.
Wasn’t livin’ like Thanksgiving; I was turkey without the stuffin’.
Kool G. Rap, “Blowin’ Up in the World,” 4,5,6, 1995. More from G Rap…
Baby, baby, baby, I don’t wanna be rude,
But I know the cause of your bloody attitude.
I know why you act that way,
It usually happens on the 28th day.
I respect that…crazily,
When you’re done with the pads, can you come check me?
Q-Tip, “The Infamous Date Rape,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, 1991. More from Q-Tip the Abstract…
Brothers ain’t shit,
So don’t honk your horn, keep rolling.
No, I don’t wanna ride cause the shit might be stolen.
Anyway, I know your number:
You got a ‘Gas, Grass or Ass’ sticker on your bumper.
Roxanne Shante, “Brothers Ain’t Shit,” The Bitch is Back, 1992. Hear this song and other rap quotables on the RapQuote Mixcloud.
The way mothers feel for they sons, how fathers feel for they daughters;
When he date, he straight, chip off his own papa.
When she date, we wait behind the door with the sawed off,
Cause we think no one is good enough for our daughters.
Nas, “Daughters,” Life is Good, 2012. More from Nas…
Now Joe wanna be like Bob,
Bob got it goin’ on with no job.
And everything Rob got he got from Robin,
And everything she got, she got ho-hoppin’.
My girl Jilly wanna be like Jackie,
Fat rope chains and I think that’s wick-wacky.
Tom and Dick wanna be like Harry,
Little do they know he’s bitin’ on Barry…
Salt, “Expression,” from Salt-N-Pepa’s Blacks’ Magic, 1990
They been calling me a criminal for so damn long,
Start to believe they right…and they gon’ make me do something wrong.
You see me in the hood, you think I’m trynna rob you.
I’m just talking to you when you think I’m trynna con you?
No matter what, they gon’ call me a crook.
So you think I give a fuck if I look like a motherfuckin’ criminal?
Sticky Fingaz, “Look Like a Criminal,” from Onyx’s Against All Authority, 2015. More from Sticky…
Stop walking through life as if you were blind,
You should reach for your goal cause I’m reaching for mine.
MC Shan, “The Bridge,” Down by Law, 1987
I’m just a bastard with a bad habit,
Bad back, in a black Volkswagen Rabbit
…Shit, I gotta have it.
Black magic woman put a spell on me;
Fuck around and win a spelling bee.
I could walk under ladders, still win the lotto.
Ten minutes flat: built a boat in a bottle.
Action Bronson, “Galactic Love,” Mr. Wonderful, 2015. More from Bronsolini…
Fear is weakness, learn from what experience teaches.
Beware of leeches, the vampires, my secrets…
Never follow, cause most niggas is straight up cowards.
Take care of my body’s the temple, my mind is the power.
Nas, “Self Conscience,” from Nas & Ill Will Records Presents QB’s Finest, 2000. More from Nas >
What’s poppin? My gun on ya head, nigga.
What’s crackin? The bones in ya head, nigga.
What’s really good? Nothin but the doe.
What’s really hood? You already know.
Prodigy, “You Already Know,” Mobb Deep & 50 Cent’s G-Unit Radio, Pt. 17: Best In The Business, 2006. More lyrics from P…
A thin line between the haters and the ones who love us.
A thinner line from the freedom and the foul judges,
In the streets where the snake niggas hold grudges.
Tragedy Khadafi, “Calm Down,” Thug Matrix II, 2006. More from The Intelligent Hoodlum…
My mic is a Magnum.
See me and this chick, we go back like Cro-Magnon.
Man…we did it in the back of your Magnum;
I said, ‘Put them Lifestyles back, give me the Magnums.’
Pharoahe Monch, “Rap Life,” from Diamond D’s The Diam Piece, 2014. More lyrics from Pharoahe Monch…
This is business: they don’t care about your lyrics;
The better you sell, the better future for their children.
Controversy sells, so they support conflict,
Makes more progress, means more profit.
An artist gets killed, they say they’re ‘so sorry,’
Meanwhile, they tell you the date of his next project.
What a life…death made them more profit:
Record companies get paid for your drama.
Cormega, “Industry,” Mega Philosophy, 2014. More wisdom from ‘Mega…
Rappers hate each other, not the labels that got rich,
Don’t care about culture, they only want profit.
If your album sell slow, bet you’ll get dropped quick;
Q-Tip warned us: the industry’s toxic.
For reference, check out BDP’s Sex and Violence.
Cormega, “Industry,” Mega Philosophy, 2014