Nas, "Memory Lane." Lyrics here. Song here. Discussion later. But I'll say that I played this song over and over while I was writing my book. I just wanted it to read like this sounds.

Comments open. This song always described what 1988 felt like to me. Or rather what it felt like to be a kid, living in a city at the height of the crack era. It's really all there, the violence, the excitement, the drugs the inevitable downfall. The thing about Nas is he could be nostalgic without being sentimental. And so you get lines like:

I reminisce on park jams, my man was shot for a sheep coat
Childhood lessons make me see him drop in my weed smoke.
It's real, grew up in trife life, to times with white lines
to hype bikes, murdereous night-times, to knife-fights invite crime.

And then the imagery of lines like, "Poetry that's a part of me, retardly bop\I drop the ancient manifested hip-hop straight off the block." That first line makes me think of being a kid and trying to imitate my older brother's bop, hoping I could look as cool as him. On this cut, and really on this whole album, Nas was just so good about saying more with less. It really was like rap was his first language. That's how you get classics like:

My intellect prevails from a hanging cross with nails
I reinforce the frail, with lyrics that's real.
Word to Christ, a disciple of streets, trifle on beats
I decipher prophecy through a mic and say peace.

The whole time I was writing my memoir, I just wanted to do something that sounded like that.

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