Peace before everything, God before anything,
Love before anything, real before everything,
Home before any place, shoot before anything,
Style and state radiate, Love Power slay the hate.

Mos Def, “Priority,” The Ecstatic, 2009

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

There’s a very big difference between what’s rap and what’s real,
When those worlds collide, that’s when rappers get killed.
Trappers, they go to jail, die without leaving a will,
There’s a very big difference between what’s rap and what’s real.

Saigon, “Rap Vs. Real,” The Greatest Story Never Told 2: Bread and Circuses, 2012

It’s kinda hard bein humble in the belly of the struggle,
Doin things that probably get you in trouble.

Busta Rhymes, “Been Through the Storm,” The Big Bang, 2006

Everybody want to talk about who this and who that,
Who the realest and who wack, or who white or who black.
Critics want to mention that they miss when hip hop was rappin’…
Motherfucker, if you did, then Killer Mike’d be platinum.

Kendrick Lamar, “Hood Politics,” To Pimp a Butterfly, 2015. More from Kendrick…

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…

I never rapped on an R&B record, and I never will.
I got these phony muthafuckas talkin bout ‘Let’s keep it real.’
But they don’t know how to take they own advisement,
Going out, do it solo on an advertisement, commercializing.
Fuckin’ sell out, nigga…this is hip-hop, not fashion.

B-Real, “Strictly Hip-Hop,” from Cypress Hill’s III: Temples of Boom, 1995. More quotes from Cypress Hill >