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I know the feelin, when you feelin like a villain,
You be havin good thoughts but the evils be revealin’.
And the stresses of life can take you off the right path,
Jealousy and envy tends to infiltrate your staff…
We gotta hold it down so we can move on past
All adversities, so we can get through fast.
Q-Tip, “Stressed Out,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes & Life, 1996
My days getting shorter, my nights getting longer,
My cell getting smaller, my son getting taller.
I exercise my mind, my body getting stronger,
But my blood getting colder, heart getting harder.
My chances for appeal getting slimmer,
My skin getting brighter, my hair getting thinner.
See, when you stressed out, you could age fast in here,
I done seen weak niggas not last a year.
So before lights out, I write my kids every night,
Kiss the stamp on the kite,
And say a prayer…I hope it lands safe in these flights,
I pray they sleep safe through the night.
Try to teach my son right, give him some jewels,
But it’s hard to raise my boy from this visiting room.
Many cells turned to prisoner’s tombs,
I just pray I don’t die in here,
And last night I almost cried a tear.
Beanie Sigel, “Have Mercy,” from Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, 2009
You know them days you just got the blues,
All stressed and depressed from just watchin’ the news?
No matter what good you do, it seems you always get screwed.
Got you caught up in your feelings, now you off in the mood.
Shake that attitude and do what you can,
Set a couple goals, follow through with your plans.
Time waits for no man and tomorrow’s not promised,
So if she’s still alive, shoot a call to your mama.
Cause the fighting and the drama, it’s just not worth it,
Nobody’s perfect, ain’t none of us worthless.
We all got a place, and we all got a purpose.
Murs, “Yesterday & Today,” Murray’s Revenge, 2006
Now I’m not the type that gets upset,
Try to disrespect folks just to earn respect.
But learn this fact: whether white or black,
I can’t be conquered in my style of rap.
For jealousy and envy are dumb ones’ tools,
So Ricky says nothing, he keeps his cool.
Revenge is not a mission that the Ruler’s on,
Just forgiveness required for the wrong that’s done.
Slick Rick, “The Ruler’s Back,” The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, 1988
So lovers of life, don’t keep your hopes up high.
Why? Cause it’s just a matter of time before it’s your turn to die.
But until then, when you stop breathin’,
It’s time to stand up and fight for what you believe in!
Sticky Fingaz, “2 Wrongz,” from Onyx’s All We Got Iz Us,  1995
Lookin’ out at the world through my window pane,
Every day has many colors ‘cause the glass is stained.
Everything has changed but remains the same,
So once again the mirror raised.
And I see myself as clear as day,
And I am goin’ to the limits of my ultimate destiny,
Feeling as though somebody somewhere is testin’ me.
He who sees the end from the beginning of time
Looking forward through all the ages:
Is, was, and always shall be.
MCA, “B-Boy Bouillabaisse (A Year And A Day),” from Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, 1989. Rest in power, Adam Yauch (1964 – 2012).
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
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