Blind man plays the sax
A tune called “The Arms on My Moms Show Railroad Tracks"

from Kool G. Rap (Ft. DJ Polo) – Streets of New York Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

Walking down the Streets of New York, Kool G hears the Saxophone of a blind musician who earns his living buscaring for money on the Streets. Being familiar with his neighborhood and the people in it, Kool G knows the name to the song. It’s “The Arms on My Moms Show Railroad Tracks.” It’s a powerful message.

Here the blind musician who is robbed of the ability to see, can describe through his sad music the fact that he knows his mother is a junkie, and her arms show the evidence of repeated injections, most likely heroine, making her a dope fiend, or junkie. And this is likely the reason that this blind person must earn his living playing the sax on the street, because his mother couldn’t provide for him. It’s an unbelievably tough existence. It is doubled in intensity by the fact there is a sax playing in the instrumental from the song, putting you, the listener, right in the middle of Kool G’s experience. Though the musician is blind, he knows his mother’s arms show railroad tracks. As Nas says many years later in parallel, “‘Cause Ray Charles could see the ghetto,” Ray of course being blind, this blind musician can see the fact his mother’s arms have railroad tracks AKA marks from lots of uses of needles from getting high on heroine. To quote John Prine, but instead of it being the mother it’s the father, but nonetheless applies: “There’s a hole in Daddy’s arm, where all the money goes.” The blind musician had to leave his mother and scrape by a living himself playing the Blues on sax in the Streets of New York. Kool G Rap with lines like this established himself as one of the three greatest rappers of the 1980s, alongside Rakim and fellow Juice Crew member Big Daddy Kane. They were the best and most influential rappers of the 1980s, especially on later artists like Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas to name only a few, and lines like this showcase why.

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