Heaven or Hell, the cards we been dealt
Are the cards that we play, play, play
An allusion to predestination: the philosophical and metaphysical idea that we’re travelling the path planned for us. A common reference in religion, at least as interpreted popularly in phrases like “everything happens for a reason,” “God works in mysterious ways,” and so on.
Jay is saying, whether you’re a villain, a hero, a pragmatist, or some combination of the three, you’re doing what you can with what you have. It’s not to excuse anyone’s actions, but rather an extension of empathy to others' stories, probably with a nod to his own past, and his own complex niche in pop culture.
And I can’t shake the feeling that it alludes to the phrase, “Better servants in Heaven than kings in Hell.” We know that Jay has paid homage to (or, calling a spade a spade, ripped off) Jedi Mind Tricks before.
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