I drove by the fork in the road and went straight
Jay explains this line in Decoded noting, “I love this concept: Instead of being forced into a fucked up choice where you lose either way, choose your own path. The fork in the road I was presented with was either having those pockets full of lint, of pockets full of dope. I went straight stopped selling drugs but I also didn’t accept the false choice between poverty and breaking the law. I found my own way through and with my music, I try to help others see their way through it, too.”
In his former life he had 2 choices — be poor, or deal drugs (risky!). He avoided being poor and avoided the usual consequences of dealing drugs (jail, death) by getting out early enough and becoming a successful rapper. By going straight, he “chose my own fate” and made his own path in the road.
Note the pun on the phrase “going straight” (meaning a former criminal who starts obeying the law)
To quote Yankees star Yogi Berra (and/or poet Robert Frost):
If you see a fork in the road, take it!
Also, Jay-Z pays homage to Cappadonna’s “Slang Editorial”
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