Look, I used to cook before I had the game took
Either way my change came like Sam Cooke
“Cook” refers to converting cocaine to crack; Nas claims he sold crack before he became a rapper. He then refers to Sam Cooke’s classic song “A Change Gon' Come”. Cooking brought him change, i.e., money while Sam Cooke’s change came with the rise of the civil rights movement.
Nas grasped the deeper meaning of the Sam Cooke reference. Cooke is considered one of the pioneers in establishing himself on the business side of music and earning money through distribution and licensing. Nas makes an analogy to singing/rapping as cooking, but taking over the game (i.e. distribution) is what Sam Cooke was able to accomplish. Whether Cooke was signing or not, he was making money.
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