So they can step out of bounds quick
The side lines is lined with casualties
Who sip the life casually, then gradually become worse

from Jay Z (Ft. Alicia Keys) – Empire State of Mind Lyrics on Rap Genius


Starting from this line, Jigga describes chasing wealth and status using the language of addiction.

Even though they try to stay away from their surrounding, the characters here become seduced by the capitalist lifestyle and end up “addicted to the limelight”. The references to MDMA and Ambien in the last two verses only amps up that addiction discourse.

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