But the street life robbed me of that, so I had to put it in raps

from J. Cole (Ft. Nas) – Let Nas Down (Remix) Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

This is how Nas' “hobby” turned into a full blown passion and became the make or break path to success. When the harsh realities of the streets robbed Nas' dream of living like the Cosby’s, Nas had to turn to rap as way of realizing his dream.

Thus Nas picked up his pen and paper, detailed the gritty Queens street life in masterful lyricism, released one of the quintessential albums of hip hop, and became the legend that he is today.

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