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Nas - N.Y. State of Mind

N. Y. State Of Mind
[Intro: Nas]

Yeah yeah, aiyyo black it's time (word?)
(Word, it's time nigga?)
Yeah, it's time man (aight nigga, begin)
Yeah, straight out the fuckin dungeons of rap
Where fake niggaz don't make it back
I don't know how to start this shit, yo, now

[Verse One: Nas]

Rappers I monkey flip em with the funky rhythm I be kickin
Musician, inflictin composition
Of pain I'm like Scarface sniffin cocaine
Holdin a M-16, see with the pen I'm extreme, now
Bulletholes left in my peepholes
I'm suited up in street clothes
Hand me a nine and I'll defeat foes
Y'all know my steelo with or without the airplay
I keep some E&J, sittin bent up in the stairway
Or either on the corner bettin Grants with the celo champs
Laughin at baseheads, tryin to sell some broken amps
G-Packs get off quick, forever niggaz talk shit
Remeniscing about the last time the Task Force flipped
niggaz be runnin through the block shootin
Time to start the revolution, catch a body head for Houston
Once they caught us off guard, the Mac-10 was in the grass and
I ran like a cheetah with thoughts of an assassin
Pick the Mac up, told brothers, "Back up," the Mac spit
Lead was hittin niggaz one ran, I made him backflip
Heard a few chicks scream my arm shook, couldn't look
Gave another squeeze heard it click yo, my shit is stuck
Try to c*** it, it wouldn't shoot now I'm in danger
Finally pulled it back and saw three bullets caught up in the chamber
So now I'm jetting to the building lobby
And it was filled with children probably couldn't see as high as I be
(So whatchu sayin?) It's like the game ain't the same
Got younger niggaz pullin the triggers bringing fame to they name
And claim some corners, crews without guns are goners
In broad daylight, stickup kids, they run up on us
Fo'-fives and gauges, Macs in fact
Same niggaz'll catch a back to back, snatchin yo' cracks in black
There was a snitch on the block gettin niggaz knocked
So hold your stash until the coke price drop
I know this crackhead, who said she gotta smoke nice rock
And if it's good she'll bring ya customers in measuring pots, but yo
You gotta slide on a vacation
Inside information keeps large niggaz erasin and they wives basin
It drops deep as it does in my breath
I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death
Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined
I think of crime when I'm in a New York state of mind

["New York state of mine" --> Rakim (repeat 4X)]

[Verse Two: Nas]

Be havin dreams that I'ma gangster -- drinkin Moets, holdin Tecs
Makin sure the cash came correct then I stepped
Investments in stocks, sewein up the blocks
To sell rocks, winnin gunfights with mega cops
But just a nigga, walking with his finger on the trigger
Make enough figures until my pockets get bigger
I ain't the type of brother made for you to start testin
Give me a Smith and Wessun I'll have niggaz undressin
Thinkin of cash flow, buddah and shelter
Whenever frustrated I'ma hijack Delta
In the P. J. 's, my blend tape plays, bullets are strays
Young bitches is grazed each block is like a maze
Full of black rats trapped, plus the Island is packed
From what I hear in all the stories when my peoples come back, black
I'm livin where the nights is jet black
The fiends fight to get crack I just max, I dream I can sit back
And lamp like Capone, with drug scripts sewn
Or the legal luxury life, rings flooded with stones, homes
I got so many rhymes I don't think I'm too sane
Life is parallel to Hell but I must maintain
And be prosperous, though we live dangerous
Cops could just arrest me, blamin us, we're held like hostages
It's only right that I was born to use mics
And the stuff that I write, is even tougher than dice
I'm takin rappers to a new plateau, through rap slow
My rhymin is a vitamin, Hell without a capsule
The smooth criminal on beat breaks
Never put me in your box if your shit eats tapes
The city never sleeps, full of villians and creeps
That's where I learned to do my hustle had to scuffle with freaks
I'ma addict for sneakers, twenties of buddah and bitches with beepers
In the streets I can greet ya, about blunts I teach ya
Inhale deep like the words of my breath
I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death
I lay puzzle as I backtrack to earlier times
Nothing's equivalent, to the new york state of mind

["New York state of mind" --> Rakim (repeat 4X)]
["Nasty Nas" --> cut and scratched 8X]

Nas displays complex lyricism with his “N.Y. State of Mind” over a track from Gang Starr’s DJ Premier. The chorus samples a Rakim line from the track “Mahogany,” which is fitting since Nas was being heralded as the second coming of the God MC. The track is considered one of Nas' greatest songs, and the duo produced a sequel five years later for Nas' third album, I Am…. Alicia Keys used DJ Premier’s beat for her 2003 track “Streets of New York,” which featured verses from Nas and Rakim. Complex listed “N.Y. State of Mind” in the #9 spot on their list of The 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Beats of All-Time. Nas said the following about the track: "The music just spoke to the people that needed to know what was in my head and what it was like in the minds of everybody in New York at that time—that’s what I thought. I thought the sound sounded like what was in everyone’s head at some point, or that sound represents a certain section of your mind. […] There was a lot going on in New York, especially in the ‘90s, same as today. That song—I think it’s timeless in a lot of ways." In an interview with XXL, DJ Premier gave some background information on “N.Y. State of Mind”: "That was actually the second beat that I did [for Illmatic]. The first one was ‘Represent.’ I just had the drum pattern going with the funny little—it sounds almost like an astronaut signal at the beginning…I found that Joe Chambers sample [‘Mind Rain’], which is where that’s from. I usually don’t disclose my samples, but I cleared it, so it’s all good. Found the sample, and when they heard that melody, Nas and them was in agreement, like, ‘Yo, hook that up, that’s hot.’ So I hooked it up, and Nas started writing." Right at the beginning of the record, when he says, ‘Straight out the dungeons of rap, where fake niggas don’t make it back.’ And then there’s kind of like a silence, where the music is building up, and you hear Nas go, ‘I don’t know how to start this shit.’ He just wrote it, and he was trying to figure out how to format it, like when to come in. I’m waving at him in the control room like, ‘Look at me, go in for the count.’ So right when he looks up and sees me counting, he just jumps in. He did the whole first verse in one take, and I remember when he finished the first verse, he stopped and said, ‘Does that sound cool?’ And we were all like, ‘Oh my God!’ It was like, I don’t even care what else you write. He also praised Nas adapting to the New York sound: "On ‘New York State of Mind’ it was literally him watch[ing] me drop the needle. ‘What you think of that, you like that?’ And I’m [like,] ‘It’s alright.’ ‘Okay, keep going.’ You know it’s a record so I’m like bringing it to that point where I think it needs to start. Boom, I said, ‘Oooh, let me hook that up.’ The sound that ran hip-hop was our sound [and] Nas matched that. He wasn’t like ‘unh uh, shorty, get your sound up,’ know what I’m saying? It wasn’t ‘get your sound up,’ it’s like he blends right in." Producer Large Professor revealed that “N.Y. State of Mind” is his favorite song on Illmatic: "The intensity and just the pureness, like, it captured the whole New York perfectly. As a fan of Nas, as a fan of Preem, as a fan of hip-hop, like, it was just like, ‘Yo, this is crazy.’"

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