I'm getting ahead of myself, by the way, I could rap
But that came second to me moving this crack
Gimme a second, I swear
I will say about my rap career
Til '96 came, niggas I'm here

from Jay Z – December 4th Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

In a brilliant display of meta-parallelism, Jay-Z’s recounting of his time dealing drugs distracts him from describing his rap career just as actually dealing drugs had kept him too busy to rap

Since his mic skills were not providing the financial security that hustling could give him, he always put dealing first until he released his debut album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. As he’d recall in Heart Of The City:

I thought I told you characters I’m not a rapper
Can I live? I told you in ‘96

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