You keepin it real, but ain’t got a clue what reality really be;
See, the diameter of your knowledge is the circumference of your activity.

Ras Kass, “Soul On Ice (Remix),” Soul On Ice, 1996

What’s when you rap and don’t appreciate the art?
What’s when you sell out just to get a start?
What’s when you make bullshit just for the charts?
What’s when you rap, but it’s not from the heart?
What’s when you’re hardcore, then you turn pop?
When you steal ideas to get props?
When you sell out to be on top?
What’s when you front like you’re hard, but you’re not?
That’s a gimmick.

Lord Finesse, “No Gimmicks,’ The Awakening, 1996

All we want in this life is peace, prosperity and a little paper.

Q-Tip, “Peace, Prosperity and Paper,” from High School High Soundtrack, 1996

We got to stay awake for all these lizards and snakes;
Some of them come as friends, some of them come as Jakes.

Q-Tip, “Ill Vibe,” from Busta Rhymes’ The Coming, 1996

I bet you never heard of a playa with no game,
Told the truth to get what I want, but shot it with no shame.
Take this music dead serious while others entertain.
I see they makin’ they paper so I guess I can’t complain…or can I?
I feel they disrespectin’ the whole thang.
Them hooks like sellin’ dope to black folks,
And I choke when the food they serve ain’t tastin’ right,
My stomach can’t digest it even when I bless it…

Andre 3000, “13th Floor/Growing Old,” from Outkast’s ATLiens, 1996

There’s a million ways to live on this thing called a planet,
I’mma live everyday, I ain’t takin’ nothing for granted.

Sadat X, “The Next Spot,” from High School High soundtrack, 1996

I will endanger your species like an ostrich,
Hold you hostage, and crazy feed you swine sausage!

Busta Rhymes, “Do My Thing,” The Coming, 1996

I show more blind rage than Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles wrestling in a steel cage.

Chino XL, “Freestyle Rhymes,” Here to Save You All, 1996

The principles of true hip-hop have been forsaken,
It’s all contractual and about money makin’.

Black Thought, “What They Do,” from The Roots’ Illadelph Halflife, 1996

Shakespeare’s gone, don’t even think about it.

Dr. Octagon, “Blue Flowers,” Dr. Octagonecologyst, 1996

For what it’s worth, I’ve been a hip-hopper from birth.
Try to disrespect, and get your ass played up like a Smurf.

Large Professor, “Actual Facts,” from Lord Finesse’s The Awakening, 1996

I’d rather die enormous than live dormant.

Jay-Z, “Can I Live,” Reasonable Doubt, 1996

Your whole vocabulary’s played out, admit it.
Still wack if it came out my mouth and I spit it.

Redman, “Pick It Up,” Muddy Waters, 1996

When I need bread, I grab the toaster and stick niggas for they crumbs.

Akinyele, “The Robbery Song,” Put It in Your Mouth EP, 1996

It don’t make sense: either you a soldier from the start,
Or a actor with a record deal tryin’ to play the part.

Xzibit, “Paparazzi,” At the Speed of Life, 1996

If I should fall asleep and death takes me away,
Don’t be surprised son, I wasn’t put here to stay.

Lauryn Hill, “Family Business,” from The Fugees’ The Score, 1996

Doin forever shit: like pissin out the window on turnpikes,
Robbin niggaz for leathers, high swipin on dirt bikes.

Ghostface Killah, “Daytona 500,” Ironman, 1996. (via ninetynow)

Ayo, shout out to Mobb Deep, the Extra P
Busta Rhymes, De La, the J Beez, so don’t sleep

Q-Tip, “Mind Power, ” A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes and Life, 1996

Life’s a bitch, but God forbid the bitch divorce me…

Nas, “Affirmative Action,” It Was Written, 1996

Fuck you, losers. While you fake jacks, I makes maneuvers.

Method Man, “Got My Mind Made Up,” from 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me, 1996 (via ninetynow)

We runnin around in thousand-dollar clown suits,
Better get some boots when Lucifer turn your city to Beirut.

Ras Kass, “Soul On Ice (Remix),” 1996

The most beautifullest thing in the world is a .44 Desert Eagle.
Nigga, THAT SHIT IS DIESEL!!

Billy Danze, “Stick To Ya Gunz,” Firing Squad, 1996

These ante meridiem cats, insomniacs…
Four in the mornin’ we throwin back some Cognac juice.

Prodigy, “Give It Up Fast,” from Mobb Deep’s Hell On Earth, 1996

Always exhale the facts, cause I don’t inhale lies.

Dove, “The Bizness,” from De La Soul’s Stakes is High, 1996

Can you cook darlin? At the stove you’re revolvin’…
Bake macaroni, turkey wings, a nigga starvin
Here take my number, let me pull the chair from under
I had fun, plus your backyard speak with thunder!

Ghostface Killah, “Camay," Ironman, 1996

See them Cubans don’t care what y’all niggas do,
Colombians ain’t never ran with your crew.
Why you acting all spicy and sheisty?
The only Italians you knew was ICEEs.

Dove, “Itsoweezee,” Stakes is High, 1996

I come prepared with the white suit and stethoscope,
Listen to your heartbeat, delete beep beep BEEP.
Your insurance is high, but my price is cheap.

Dr. Octagon, “Blue Flowers,” Octagonecologyst, 1996

We got to mediate our greedy levels,
Cause the lust of currency can have us sleepin with the devil.

Q-Tip, “Peace, Prosperity and Paper,” from High School High Soundtrack, 1996

Now who done passed you a diaper and got you thinkin’ you the shit?

Mad Skillz, “The Jam,” From Where???, 1996

I smoked with a lot of college students…
Most of em wasn’t graduatin, and they knew it.

Redman, “Whateva Man,” Muddy Waters, 1996

I got you open like supermarkets!

Busta Rhymes, “Everything Remains Raw,” The Coming, 1996

Of course it’s much greater than your Benz or your Lex
The engine to my comprehension is just too complex

Dove, “The Bizness,” from De La Soul’s Stakes is High, 1996

It’s Christmas time and my rhyme’s steady bumpin.
Everybody happy, hair still nappy,
Gonna steal a gift for my old grandpappy…

Snoop Dogg, “Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto”, Christmas on Death Row, 1996

Q-Tip • “The Remedy” • 1996

There’s divinity within because we come from the divine,
A force that’s not seen, but you feel it every time:
When the wind blows, and the world turns,
And the rain drops, and the baby cries,
And the bird flies, and the ground quake,
And the stars gleam.

Q-Tip, “The Remedy,” from Get on the Bus Soundtrack, 1996

Everlast (House of Pain) • “No Doubt” • 1996

Come on, let’s be real:
You only think you can deal.
That’s why i’m holdin’ the steel,
I rock shit to make you feel
Like, damn that looks easy! Maybe I can do it.
So you take a fat beat and put your wack rhymes to it.
And God only knows what can make you pursue it,
For those who can’t dance and clap your hands to it.

– Everlast, “No Doubt,” from House of Pain’s Truth Crushed to Earth Will Rise Again, 1996

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.

I dispense dope sentences without a prescription.
Prefixes asphyxiate bitches who flips linguistics,
Representin the West, relevant to relentless sentences.
If renegade rebels resent this wicked syntax,
Revert to revolution Ras reverse, reverberates,
Revolvin with written retalliation, rate repetitious.

Ras Kass, “Etc.,” Soul on Ice, 1996. More from Ras Kass…

She claims she loves my mind, cause I’m so intelligent,
But fuck my mental…she was scheming on my mint.

Jeru tha Damaja, “Me or the Papes,” Wrath of the Math, 1996. More from Jeru…

The greatest lesson ever learned has yet to be taught.

Nas, “One Plus One,” from Large Professor’s The LP, 1996. More from Nasir…

You tried keeping it real, but you should try keeping it right.

Posdnuos, “The Bizness,” from De La Soul’s Stakes Is High, 1996. More from De La…

More rhymes are funny now, happy and silly now.
Happy-go-lucky on the mic, and meanwhile,
You standin’ still, lookin out for a good rhyme,
Makin the wack junk, wastin’ my good time.

Kool Keith, “I Ain’t Takin’ No Shorts,” from the Ultramagnetic MC’s New York What Is Funky, 1996. More from Kool Keith…

Sometimes I look up at the stars and analyze the sky,
And ask myself: was I meant to be here…why?

Ghostface Killah, “All That I Got Is You,” Ironman, 1996. More quotes from GFK…

I got to keep it tight like seams,
Cause ain’t no fiends
Comin’ in between me and my dreams,
See what I mean, black?

Mad Skillz, “Move Ya Body,” From Where???, 1996

And through our travels we get separated, never forget:
In order to survive, got to learn to live with regrets.

Jay Z, “Regrets,” Reasonable Doubt, 1996

Now who done passed you a diaper and got you thinkin’ you the shit?

Mad Skillz, “The Jam,” From Where???, 1996

A thug changes, and love changes,
And best friends become strangers.

Nas, “The Message,” It Was Written, 1996

It seems to me like all these people claim to be the victim,
Acting like the whole entire world is out to get them.
Stand up on your own,
And prove that you are grown,
Because the life that you save may be your own.

Lee Majors, “Maybe,” from Da Bush Babees’ Gravity, 1996

Life is something you can’t borrow and give back;
Here today and gone tomorrow…just like that.

E-40, “The Story,” Tha Hall of Game, 1996

Two wrongs don’t make it right, but it damn sure makes us even.

Sticky Fingaz, “2 Wrongs,” from Onyx’s All We Got Iz Us, 1996

Now on the first day of Christmas, my homeboy gave to me
A sack of the krazy glue and told me to smoke it up slowly.
Now on the second day of Christmas, my homeboy gave to me
A fifth of Hendog and told me to take my mind off that weed.
Now by the third day of Christmas, my big homeboy gave to me
A whole lot of everything, and it wasn’t nuthin’ but game to me.

Snoop Dogg, “Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto,” from Christmas on Death Row, 1996

I never fronted, you can get it if you want it…
Won’t say I’m the best, but I’m not that far from it.

Lord Finesse, “Gameplan,” The Awakening, 1996

Make a radio hit: heads criticize it.
Underground classic? Nobody buys it.
So, rap is fucked…
And everything blowing up sounds redundant,
But money talks and bullshit does 9 flat in the 100.

Ras Kass, “Reelishymn,” Soul On Ice, 1996

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

I circumnavigate the globe with a one-liner like latitude.

Ras Kass, “Riiiot!” from Chino XL’s Here to Save You All, 1996

I live by the beat like you live check to check.
If you don’t move your feet then I don’t eat,
So we like neck to neck.

André Benjamin, “Elevators (Me & You),” from Outkast’s ATLiens, 1996

I been in the game for 10 years making rap tunes…
Ever since honeys was wearing Sassoons.

Dr. Dre, “California Love,” from 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me, 1996

Bitch, you ain’t got nothin on the rich,
Every other day my whole dress code switch.

Cappadonna, “Winter Warz,” from Ghostface Killah’s Ironman, 1996