My niggas thought they was words, but it was pictures I saw

from J. Cole – Let Nas Down Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

The Nas lyrics that Cole had taped up in his room were just seen as words on paper by his friends, but he could see further into the art of the lyrics, even seeing them as pictures.

Nas is also known for his ability to paint vivid imagery with his words. This reference echoes a lyric from the Nas joint Hate Me Now:

Best storyteller, thug narrator, my styles greater

With the vivid imagery that Nas employed on songs like 1999’s “Undying Love”, Cole likens Nas' work to a novel.

https://twitter.com/JColeNC/statuses/348515856214528000

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