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N.Y. State of Mind


N.Y. State of Mind Lyrics

[Produced by DJ Premier]

Yeah, yeah
Ayo, Black, it's time, word (Word, it's time, man)
It's time, man (Aight, man, begin)
Yeah, straight out the fuckin' dungeons of rap
Where fake niggas don't make it back
I don't know how to start this shit, yo... now

[Verse 1]
Rappers, I monkey flip 'em with the funky rhythm I be kickin'
Musician inflictin' composition
Of pain, I'm like Scarface sniffin' cocaine
Holdin' an M16, see with the pen I'm extreme

Now, bullet holes left in my peepholes
I'm suited up in street clothes, hand me a 9 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 cee-lo champs
Laughin' at baseheads tryna sell some broken amps
G-packs get off quick, forever niggas talk shit
Reminiscin' about the last time the task force flipped
Niggas 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

Picked the MAC up, told brothers "Back up!" — the MAC spit
Lead was hittin' niggas, 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 cock it, it wouldn't shoot, now I'm in danger

Finally pulled it back and saw 3 bullets caught up in the chamber
So now I'm jettin' to the building lobby
And it was full of children, prob'ly couldn't see as high as I be

(So what you sayin'?) It's like the game ain't the same
Got younger niggas pullin' the triggers, bringin' fame to their name

And claim some corners, crews without guns are goners
In broad daylight, stick-up kids, they run up on us
45's and gauges, MAC's in fact
Same niggas will catch you back-to-back, snatchin' your cracks in black
There was a snitch on the block gettin' niggas knocked
So hold your stash 'til the coke price drop
I know this crackhead who said she got to smoke nice rock
And if it's good she'll bring you customers in measuring pots

But yo, you gotta slide on a vacation
Inside information keeps large niggas erasin' and their 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 mind
New York state of mind
New York state of mind

[Verse 2]
Be havin' dreams that I'm a gangsta
, drinkin' Moëts, holdin' TEC's
Makin' sure the cash came correct, then I stepped
Investments in stocks, sewin' up the blocks to sell rocks
Winnin' gunfights with mega-cops

But just a nigga walkin' 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 dstart testin'
Give me a Smith & Wesson, I have niggas undressin'
Thinkin' of cash flow, buddha and shelter
Whenever frustrated, I'm a hijack Delta
In the PJ'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 dykes
I've taken rappers to a new plateau
Through rap slow, my rhymin' is a vitamin held 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 villains and creeps
That's where I learned to do my hustle, had to scuffle with freaks

I'm a addict for sneakers, 20s of Buddha 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
New York state of mind
New York state of mind
New York state of mind

[Outro: Sample]
"Nasty Nas—"

More on Genius

About “N.Y. State of Mind”

This song was inspired by Kool G. Rap’s ‘'Streets of New York’'.

His third LP, I Am… kicked off with a sequel track.

  • What has Nas said about this song?

    Nas told Rolling Stone:

    [“N.Y. State of Mind”] is one of my favorites, because that one painted a picture of the City like nobody else. I’m about eighteen when I’m saying that rhyme. I worked on that first album all my life, up until I was twenty, when it came out. I was a very young cat talking about it like a Vietnam veteran, talking like I’ve been through it all. That’s just how I felt around that time.

    Nas told XXL:

    I had most of it already written, and the original [rhyme] was probably close to 60 bars, so I just broke it up. When I got in the studio, we heard that record. We were just listening to records. I would sit with Premier for hours on end in D&D Studios. When he started putting it together, I just pieced the stuff that I had & wrote a couple of new things in there, too.

  • What has producer DJ Premier said about this song?

    DJ Premier via Complex:

    That was just amazing because it happened in this room. Actually, anything from ‘92 and on, we did it here. It was just amazing watching him work because I was already a fan of him when he did “Back to the Grill,” “Halftime,” “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” and “Live at the Barbeque.” So when I heard him on those records I was like, “Yo, I got to do something that’s on the same level.” So I came in here, and flipped the ill, gutter, Joe Chambers sample (“Mind Rain”). I can tell you because it’s cleared. [Laughs.] Nas watched me build the beat from scratch. And he wrote the verse in the studio. If you listen to “N.Y. State of Mind” you’ll hear him going, “I don’t know how to start this shit,” because he literally just wrote it. Before he started the verse, I was signaling him going, “One, two, three,” and he just goes in like, “Rappers I monkey flip’em, in the funky rhythm.” He did that in one take. After he did that first verse, he goes, “How was that? Did that sound all right?” And we were just like, “Oh, my God! The streets are going to go crazy when they hear this!”

    It was one take, but he would format it before. He’ll sit at the front, cover his mouth when the beat’s playing, and would mumble it. So we can’t hear what he’s saying. He was real quiet, but he would bring his whole army. Rest in peace to Drawz, by the way. He just died not too long ago. I remember [Nas] bringing Slate, Wallet Head, basically, all the people he was shouting out. They would be like, “Can we go in [the booth] too?” They just wanted to feel it, you know? It was just funny to watch them all in the booth doing “Represent,” and yelling in the background.

    During an interview on Genius Level, Primo said:

    During an interview on Mass Appeal, Primo said:

  • Was Nas the first rapper to say the line i never sleep cos sleep is the cousin.?

    Nah, when genius asked him about it he’d said that it was a huge thing around Queens for a while.

"N.Y. State of Mind" Track Info