You can blame my old earth, for the shit she instilled in me
Still with me, pain plus work
Old earth is a reference to his mother: in hip-hop’s favorite religion, the Nation of Gods and Earths, the Earth is a black woman (which referred to black mothers as the Earth)
Jay-Z succeeded because his mom taught him how to have a work ethic: if you’re willing to suffer and grind, you’ll succeed.
You could also note the similar wordplay here, as a continuation of the last few lines—“dirt,” “stain,” “old earth.” He came from the “dirt,” but emerged without getting dirty (i.e., arrested, dead, etc)—“without a stain on my shirt”—but you can’t totally blame Jay for getting dirty, because it was his “old earth” that forced him to get dirty.
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