Broken promises, steal your watch and tell you what time it is

from Kendrick Lamar (Ft. Anna Wise & Jay Rock) – Money Trees Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

The irony.

Theft is a reminder of the reality of life in these projects, having nothing, and the broken promises inflicted on its residents.

Double meaning here: While literally stealing someone else’s watch will give you the power to tell them what the time is, the actual act of theft is also letting your victim know that this is what’s going down, and they can’t do anything about it. You can also mark the passage of time with these broken promises.

Also, the scenario described here is adding “insult to injury” — Jay Rock fully underlines the unrepentant harshness of the ghetto life.

Nevertheless, Jay Rock still might be talking about the “snakes” — the people you can’t trust, the backstabbers, the ones that break promises; the same people that are helping you are hurting you. He is letting you know the time but is using your watch, just like the snake in the grass, or the snake that lurks in the flowers, its tempting and promising to go out and pick a flower, but once you do (trust those snakes) they will bite you (steal your watch, J’s, break the promise, backstab you)

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