Dark Knight feeling, die and be a hero
Or live long enough to see yourself become a villain
The 2nd line is a quote from the 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight, that also relates to the main theme of the film.
At the end of the movie, Batman kills Harvey Dent who has become the evil Two Face. Batman believes that Gotham City needs Dent to be their hero and lets the public believe that Dent died as a martyr, when Dent/Two Face certainly would have become a villain had he lived.
Harvey says this quote earlier in the movie while talking about Julius Caesar. Caesar took over power of Rome to protect the city and was praised for it, which Harvey compares to what Batman is doing. When his friends point out to him that Caesar never gave his power back, he says this quote, showing that if Caesar was killed while protecting the city he would be a hero. But since he was killed after having power for years, he died as a villain.
In rap music and art in general, artists are generally held in higher regard if they die at a high point in their careers. The best examples are The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, who became hip-hop heroes after their deaths. Jay believes (correctly) that he would have become a legend too had he died earlier in his career. The longer he lives, the more haters he attracts
Jay might also be referencing Heath Ledger, whose “heroic” performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight was very well received, especially since he died before the movie was released. He never got to see himself become the villain of the film
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “So Appalled” by Kanye West (Ft. CyHi The Prynce, Jay Z, Pusha T, RZA & Swizz Beatz) Lyrics and leave a comment on the lyrics box