I woke up early on my born day; I'm 20, it's a blessing
The essence of adolescence leaves my body, now I'm fresh and

from Nas (Ft. AZ) – Life's a Bitch Lyrics on Rap Genius


Twenty is when your age no longer ends in “teen”, but more importantly it is usually around the time when males are completing the final stages of puberty

Nas is writing in the present tense; he was in fact around 20 years old during the recording of Illmatic and could have written this song on his 20th birthday. It is an accomplishment to have escaped his teens because really he could have been killed any day in the mean streets of the Queensbridge projects. This line illustrates how precious life is.

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