1 “Tried by 12” by East Flatbush Project ft. Des
“Send me commissary, motherf*ck them flowers!” This Brooklyn-style classic is all about the grit it requires to survive the grimiest of life circumstances. For storylines like these, willpower is synonymous with ruthlessness as one must be willing to serve an expansive prison sentence as punishment for what it took to see another day.
2. “Rewind” by Nas
“‘Block you’re on enemy’s the’/Hung up the phone, then the phone rang/I’m laid in the bed, thinkin’ about this pretty young thing.” Nas is a masterful poet whose lyricism is at times as vivid as cinema. This creative track accentuates the devastation and loss associated with street violence as it is told in reverse order of the actual timeline of events.
3. “Stan” by Eminem
“That’s my girlfriend in the trunk/But I didn’t slit her throat/I just tied her up/See I ain’t like you/’Cause if she suffocates she’ll suffer more, and then she’ll die too!” This infamous Eminem jam is the result of the rapper owning up to his guilty conscience. The lyrics detail Eminem’s fear of a copy-cat wangster who takes Slim Shady’s jests to heart and acts them out literally. Of course, there is cause for concern as Eminem has simulated murdering his ex-wife, Kim, in several songs and numerous performances.
4. “Here Comes the Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze
This song may be about metaphorical murder, but it references an infamous motto of the Crips gang founder. “No, we don’t die, yes, we multiply.” Ini Kamoze chooses to slay with his words.
5. “How I Could Just Kill a Man” by Cypress Hill
Cypress Hill don’t believe you can understand, but they are willing to reason with your logic. “Say some punk try to get you for your auto/Would you call the one-time, play the role model?/No, I think you play like a thug”. Ironically, Cypress Hill postulate that most men would do what they do if they had been through what the rap group has gone through.
The pen is mightier than the sword, but it isn’t easy. These old-school hip-hop artists managed to channel the violence, pain, and suffering they saw their peers experiencing into timeless classics. Hip-hop music continues to portray the human experience realistically.
Which of these old school rap songs paint the most clear picture of the gruesome reality of the times?