The shiny Apple is bruised but sweet

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

Meaning

New York is referred to as the “Big Apple”. “Shiny” refers to the superficial glamour of the city. “Bruised but sweet” refers to its seamy and even violent underside, as well as Mos' abiding love for it.

There is a mytho-poetic resonance with the Garden of Eden in Genesis, a paradise on earth, where knowledge was represented by an apple, and tasting it caused man’s fall into a life of struggle. Knowledge is dangerous, and once we taste it we won’t be living in a paradise anymore. But there is no other way to live.

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