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
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. Nas says that is a ‘blessing’ in order to emphasize the fact that ‘you never know when you’re gonna go.’ 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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