Hey yo, I walked through the valley of the shadow of death
This is a reference to Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, the comfort me.
The actual meaning of this passage is to praise God even in your darkest moments. In Cole’s version of the verse he portrays his hood as a “shadow of death” where it may be difficult for him to retain his faith. As hard as it may be the theme of this song and the reference to “keeping a cross on my chest” a few lines down implies that Cole does still have faith in a higher power.
As Cole mentioned before that he studied Makaveli, this could be a reference from 2Pac’s song “So Many Tears” where he starts song with lyrics:
I shall not fear no man but God
Though I walk through the valley of death
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “Forbidden Fruit” by J. Cole (Ft. Kendrick Lamar) Lyrics and leave a comment on the lyrics box