God’s the seamstress that tailor-fitted my pain.

50 Cent, “Patiently Waiting,” Get Rich or Die Tryin’, 2003

Couldn’t you see me and you stretched out in a bikini on the beach in Tahiti?
See, me, I’m very selective even though I could be greedy;
My main objective is to write our names together in graffiti.

Pharoahe Monch, “Shugah Shorty,” from Organized Konfusion’s The Equinox, 1997

Love and hate, black and white,
Right or wrong, who is right?
Some smoke joints to anoint their brain
To the vanishing point…so they won’t go insane.

Pharoahe Monch, “Walk Into The Sun,” from Organized Konfusion, 1991

I’m givin’ more flat lines to niggas than loose-leaf.

Kool G. Rap, “Go For Your Guns,” from Kool G. Rap and DJ Polo’s Live and Let Die, 1992

Hard times spreading just like the flu,
Watch out homeboy, don’t let it catch you.

Run-D.M.C., “Hard Times," Run-D.M.C. 1984. Visit the Flu Trends map on Google for more information on how the flu is impacting your community. Theme song: Beatnuts "No Escapin’ This”.

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

My radio’s loud like a fire alarm:
The floor vibrates, the walls cave in,
The bass makes my eardrums seem thin.
Def sounds in my ride, yes the front and back…
You would think it was a party, not a Cadillac!

LL Cool J, “I Can’t Live Without My Radio,” Radio, 1985

You can do all them push-ups to pump up your chest,
I got a 12 gauge Mossberg to pump up your chest,
Have you gasping for air after that shell hit your vest.
Fear me like you fear God, ‘cause I bring death.

50 Cent, “We All Die One Day,” from Obie Trice’s Cheers, 2003 

38-24-37…
You and me, hun, we’re a match made in heaven.
I like to kiss ya where some brothers won’t…
I like to tell ya things some brothers don’t.

Q-Tip, “Bonita Applebum,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1990

We were beginners in the hood as 5 Percenters,
But somethin’ must’ve got in us, cause all of us turned to sinners.

AZ, “Life’s a Bitch,” from Nas’ Illmatic, 1994

Fuck a stray bullet, I take aim when the gun draws,
For everlasting fame, I will maim those who change the gun laws.
Cause post-traumatic stress disorder, ask any vet I’ve worked with.
My purpose? Catching bodies like safety nets at the circus.

Pharoahe Monch, “Damage,” from PTSD, 2012

How far must you go to gain respect? Um…
Well, it’s kind of simple: just remain your own.
Or you’ll be crazy sad and alone.

Q-Tip, “Check the Rhime,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, 1991

I want a girl with extensions in her hair,
Bamboo earrings, at least two pair,
A Fendi bag and a bad attitude,
That’s all I need to get me in a good mood.
She can walk with a switch and talk with street slang,
I love it when a woman ain’t scared to do her thing.

LL Cool J, “Around the Way Girl,” Mama Said Knock You Out, 1990

Some seek fame cause they need validation,
Some say hating is confused admiration.

Nas, “Stay,” Life is Good, 2012 

Why’s my name the Large Professor?
Cause I milked your cow, in other words I hit your heifer.

Large Professor, “Live at the Barbecue,” from Main Source’s Breaking Atoms, 1991

I’m no slave to a rhythm, I whip it,
Then I take its name and change its religion,
Then I chop the foot off the fuckin’ beat
For trying to escape the track, now it’s obsolete.

Pharoahe Monch, “Thirteen,” from Organized Konfusion’s Stress: The Extinction Agenda, 1994

If rhyme is a crime, my mic is my co-defendant.

Cormega, “Focused Up,” from Large Professor’s Professor @ Large, 2012

It’s a thin line between paper and hate,
Friends and snakes, nine millis and thirty-eights,
Hell or the pearly gates…I was destined to come,
Predicted, blame God, He blew breath in my lungs.

Nas, “Hate Me Now,” I Am…, 1999

Sunny days wouldn’t be special…if it wasn’t for rain.
Joy wouldn’t feel so good…if it wasn’t for pain.
Death gotta be easy, ‘cause life is hard,
It’ll leave you physically, mentally, and emotionally scarred.

50 Cent, “Many Men (Wish Death),” Get Rich or Die Tryin’, 2003

The D’s for doin it all of the time.
M is for the rhymes, that are all mine,
C’s for cool, cool as can be,
And why you wear those glasses? So I can see!

D.M.C., “Here We Go,” Run-D.M.C., 1983

A rap villain: chillin’ and I don’t give a fuck about a killin’ cause I’m still in effect when you’re illin’.

Kool G. Rap, “Jive Talk,” from Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo’s Wanted: Dead or Alive, 1990

Me and Frosted went to get a drink.
But she ordered somethin’ bugged, and I ain’t know what to think.
She ordered potassium, calcium,
Carbohydrate, scotch with sodium.
She took me to her crib, threw me on the couch…
I woke up the next morning with a spoon in my mouth.

LL Cool J, “Milky Cereal,” Mama Said Knock You Out, 1990

Back in the days when I was a teenager,
Before I had status, and before I had a pager,
You could find The Abstract, listening to hip-hop,
My pops used to say it reminded him of be-bop.
I said, ‘Well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles.
The way that Bobby Brown is just ampin’ like Michael.
It’s all expected, things are for the lookin’,
If you got the money, Quest is for the bookin’.

Q-Tip, “Excursions,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, 1991

Shorty, let me tell you about my only vice:
It has to do with lots of lovin’, and it ain’t nuttin’ nice.

Q-Tip, “Electric Relaxation,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, 1993

A prejudiced man is of a devil mentality.
These are words of a wise man, wisdom;
Take a taste and erase the racism.

Kool G Rap, “Erase Racism,” from Kool G Rap and DJ Polo’s Wanted: Dead or Alive, 1990

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 like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian.

Phife, “Electric Relaxation,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, 1993

Havin’ cash is highly addictive, especially when you’re used to havin’ money to live with.

Prodigy, “Give Up the Goods (Just Step),” from Mobb Deep’s The Infamous, 1995. More quotes from QB’s finest…

Life is a gamble, we scramble for money,
I might crack a smile, but ain’t a damn thing funny.

Prodigy, “Eye for an Eye (Your Beef Is Mines),” from Mobb Deep’s The Infamous, 1995. More gems from P >

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…

When the slugs penetrate, you feel a burning sensation,
Gettin’ closer to God in a tight situation.

Prodigy, “Shook Ones Pt. II,” from Mobb Deep’s The Infamous,  1995. More lines from Prodigy…

The world is kinda cold and the rhythm is my blanket.

Q-Tip, “Verses from the Abstract,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, 1991

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

Kool G. Rap • “Bad to the Bone” • 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

LL Cool J • “My Rhyme Ain’t Done” • 1987

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

Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest) • “Black Spasmodic” • 2016

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

Pharoahe Monch • “The Truth” • 1999

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

When worse comes to worst, my peoples come first.

Try to react, and get them motherfucking feelings hurt.

Havoc, “Survival of the Fittest,” from Mobb Deep’s The Infamous, 1995. More from the QB duo…

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?
A-yo…funk that!

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.

Shorty thought she subtle but she really was blatant…
When she shook her thing and violated,
Now these wolf-like thoughts are formulated.

Q-Tip, “Vivrant Thing,” Amplified, 2000. More from Tip…

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…

The greatest lesson ever learned has yet to be taught.

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

I know I’d be the man if I cold yanked the plug on R&B…but I can’t, and that’s bugged.

Q-Tip, “Buggin’ Out,” The Low End Theory, 1991. More from ATCQ…

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.

Nas, “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” Illmatic, 1993. More from Nas…

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.

Nas, “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” Illmatic, 1993. More from Nas…

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.

Nas, “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” Illmatic, 1993. More from Nas…

My whole persona’s kinda laid back like a recliner,
And since a minor, I been fucking with marijuana.

AZ, “Rather Unique,” Doe or Die, 1995. More from AZ…

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…

They call it Thanksgiving, I call your holiday ‘Hell Day’
Cause I’m from poverty, neglected by the wealthy.

Nas, “What Goes Around,” Stillmatic, 2001. More from Nas…

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…

Life’s a bitch and then you die.
That’s why we get high,
Cause you never know when you’re gonna go.

AZ, “Life’s a Bitch,” Illmatic, 1994. More from AZ…

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…

Brothers on the butters can’t flip the Parkay.

Large Professor, “Large Professor,” from Main Source’s Breaking Atoms, 1991. More from Extra P…

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 >

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

Different day, same shit, ain’t nothing good in the hood,
I’d run away from this bitch and never come back, if I could.

50 Cent, “Hate It or Love It,” from The Game’s The Documentary, 2005. More lyrics from 50…

Squeeze 7cc’s so I could see the seven seas,
And CC all my friends so they could see what I was seeing…
But what they saw was a despicable human being;
So, I guess they just wasn’t seeing what I was seeing.

Pharoahe Monch, “Broken Again,” PTSD, 2014. More quotes from Pharoahe Monch…

Shorty, let me tell you about my only vice:
It has to do with lots of lovin’, and it ain’t nuttin’ nice.

Q-Tip, “Electric Relaxation,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, 1993. More from the Tribe…

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. More Pharoahe Monch quotes >

I switched my motto:
Instead of sayin’ ‘Fuck tomorrow,’
That buck that bought a bottle
Coulda struck the Lotto.

Nas, “Life’s a Bitch,” Illmatic, 1994. Plenty more Nas quotes >

This is for my bitches in the shelters that don’t need shelter, you just doin’ that shit for a crib.
And all my bad little bitches, when your baby father hits you, stick a ice cold knife in his ribs.
And all my bitches pimp the system, get your WIC, tell your workers, “Fuck that,” you gon’ have more kids.
And you ain’t have ‘em cause you need ’em, but now you gotta feed em, so you figure that your ass gon’ strip.

Panchi, “Stretch Marks and Cigarette Burns,” from Blaq Poet’s The Blaqprint, 2009

Through the fame, through the fire and the flames,
I adapt to the pain, real niggas do the same.
And though we homies and we no longer hang
You know you know me, and that love still remains.

AZ, “Never Change,” A.W.O.L., 2005

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

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

Once I slapped a rapper with mace,
Then I spit acid in his face, after he rinsed his eyes, no wait…
I actually grew five times my size, grabbed Ma$e by the thigh and slapped a rapper with him.

Pharoahe Monch, “Rapid Eye Movement,” PTSD, 2014. More Pharoahe Monch quotes…

Hip-hop started on the block;
I fell asleep at the wheel, the shit crashed into Pop.

Sticky Fingaz, “Wakedafucup,” from Onyx’s #WAKEDAFUCUP, 2014

It’s like I’m married to the silencer,
Until I file for divorce and release my ex-calibers.
Do art with your arteries, place that for my adversaries,
Put your snap back cap back, cap your capillaries.

Pharoahe Monch, “Rapid Eye Movement,” PTSD, 2014. More Pharoahe Monch quotes…

Could hate a person, but in fact it’s not worth it.
Never know how long you’ve got on this earth, kid.

Large Professor, “In the Sun,” First Class, 2002

Unpredictable, liable to flip my lid…
My moms dropped me on my head when I was a kid.
Back then I lost all my marbles, today I lost my job,
So in essence, it’s Armageddon, somebody’s bound to get robbed!

Sticky Fingaz, “Shiftee,” from Onyx’s Bacdafucup, 1993. More Onyx quotes…

I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
Is urging me to be myself, but never follow someone else
Because opinions are like voices, we all have a different kind.

Q-Tip, “Steve Biko (Stir It Up),” from A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, 1993

Bullets ain’t racial, kid…they only hate you.

Kool G. Rap, “The Realest,” from Mobb Deep’s Murda Muzik, 1999

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

The motto goes: Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
I prefer: Love, Hugs and Hip-Hop Soul.

Zev Love X (aka MF Doom), “Figure of Speech,” from K.M.D.’s Mr. Hood, 1991. More MF Doom quotes…

I got a lot of things to do, a lot of money to make;
I got no time for you and all the moves you fake.

JuJu, “Props Over Here,” from The Beatnuts’ Street Level, 1994

Life is full of stress and it wrecks my brain,
So I puff the buddha bless and destroy the pain.

JuJu, “Props Over Here,” from The Beatnuts’ Street Level, 1994

I have a dream:
One day we will get to the promised land.
Then the president will be me,
The government will be Shabaam, Mos and Kweli…that’s it!
All wackness is now banned.

Pharoahe Monch, “Intro,” Internal Affairs, 1999. More from Pharoahe Monch…