This Jay-Z song came out in 1998 and it reminds me of a really good friend of mine.  And every time I see the video it makes me miss NY.  You might not know that I went to beautiful Fordham University in the Bronx.  And my lily-white ass got chased up and down Webster Avenue and Fordham Rd. enough times to make me decide I didn’t want to live there.

But there is nothing like New York City.  And watching those kids go into that bodega in the beginning of the video makes me miss it.  Not because I used to follow kids (that happened in Tulsa and it was a misunderstanding) but because I have never been anywhere else that had bodegas.

So what does any of this have to do with the song?  Not much except for the fact that Jay-Z is as East Coast as it gets and using a hook from a song from Annie as not only the baseline but the theme of the song is genius.  Now, listening to the song (and reading the lyrics cause let’s face it, you probably don’t know it by heart) you can see that it is a pretty straightforward autobiographical song.  This song came off his third album and he was by no means hard up when it was released.  But it was his biggest hit to date and one piece sticks with me:

I don’t know how to sleep, I gotta eat, stay on my toes
Gotta a lot of beef, so logically, I prey on my foes
Hustling’s still inside of me, and as far as progress
You’d be hard-pressed, to find another rapper hot as me

Typical rapper bravado?  Well, now he’s now worth over $450 million and is married to Beyonce.  So I guess Kid Rock was right.  “It aint braggin’ motherfucker if ya back it up”.  Video and lyrics after the jump.

Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxtn6-XQupM

Check the bassline out, uh huh
Jigga, uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, yeah
Let it bump though

It’s the hard knock life, for us
It’s the hard knock life, for us
Steada treated, we get tricked
Steada kisses, we get kicked
It’s the hard knock life

From standin’ on the corners boppin’
To drivin’ some of the hottest cars, New York has ever seen
For droppin’ some of the hottest verses rap has ever heard
From the dope spot, with the smoke glock
Fleein’ the murder scene, you know me well
From nightmares of a lonely cell, my only hell
But since when y’all niggaz know me to fail? Fuck naw
Where all my niggaz with the rubber grips, bust shots?
And if you with me, mom, I rub on your tits, and what not

I’m from the school of the hard knocks, we must not
Let outsiders violate our blocks, and my plot
Let’s stick up the world and split it fifty-fifty
Let’s take the dough and stay real jiggy
And sip the cris’ and get pissy pissy
Flow infinitely like the memory of my nigga biggie, baby
You know it’s hell when I come through
The life and times of Shawn Carter
Nigga Volume 2, y’all niggaz get ready

It’s the hard knock life, for us
It’s the hard knock life, for us
Steada treated, we get tricked
Steada kisses, we get kicked
It’s the hard knock life!

I flow for those ‘dro’ed out all my niggaz
Locked down in the ten by fo’, controllin’ the house
We live in hard knocks, we don’t take over we borrow blocks
Burn ’em down and you can have it back, daddy, I’d rather that
I flow for chicks wishin’, they ain’t have to strip to pay tuition
I see you vision mama, I put my money on the longshots
All my ballers that’s born to clock
Now I’ma be on top whether I perform or not

I went from lukewarm to hot, sleepin’ on futons and cots
To king size dream machines, the green fives
I’ve seen pies let the thing between my eyes analyze life’s ills
Then I put it down type braille
I’m tight grill with the phony, rappers y’all might feel we homies
I’m like still, y’all don’t know me, shit
I’m tight grill when my situation ain’t improvin’
I’m tryin’ to murder everything movin’, feel me

It’s the hard knock life, for us
It’s the hard knock life, for us
Steada treated, we get tricked
Steada kisses, we get kicked

It’s the hard knock life, for us
It’s the hard knock life, for us
Steada treated, we get tricked
Steada kisses, we get kicked
It’s the hard knock life

I don’t know how to sleep, I gotta eat, stay on my toes
Gotta a lot of beef, so logically, I prey on my foes
Hustling’s still inside of me, and as far as progress
You’d be hard-pressed, to find another rapper hot as me
I gave you prophecy on my first joint, and y’all lamed out
Didn’t really appreciate it, till the second one came out
So I stretched the game out, x’ed your name out
Put jigga on top, drop albums non-stop for ya, nigga

It’s the hard knock life, for us
It’s the hard knock life, for us
Steada treated, we get tricked
Steada kisses, we get kicked

It’s the hard knock life, for us
It’s the hard knock life, for us
Steada treated, we get tricked
Steada kisses, we get kicked

It’s the hard knock life
It’s the hard knock life
It’s the hard knock life