Hard knuckles on the second hands of workin class watches

from Black Star (Ft. Common) – Respiration Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

“Second hands” assumes two different meanings in this sentence. (1) “Hard knuckles of the second hands” of New York’s residents, implying that weathering hardships of city life has given them a thick skin, and (2) “Working class” people have to make do with “second hand” items, like “watches,” for instance. The first meaning informs and ultimately enables the second

In addition, Mos Def, the eternally visual emcee, is playing with the fantastic image of the actual second-hands on these working-class watch being calloused and weathered.

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