Zeru

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"You're still a soldier, I'm like Sly Stone in Cobra" (Nas – It Ain't Hard to Tell) | rejected

Nas suggests that he is “sly”: tricky, canny, street-smart, etc.

"You're still a soldier, I'm like Sly Stone in Cobra" (Nas – It Ain't Hard to Tell) | accepted

Stallone’s character in Cobra is a police officer with a grievous lack of regard for protocol who nevertheless gets the girl (the couple drives off on a motorcycle) and routs evil (he kills the “Night Slasher”, president of some generic evil “Order”, in “a deadly hand-to-hand duel”).

Nas contrasts the soldier, obedient to external authority, with his Cobra self-image—- a gutsy and ultimately successful rule-breaker. Inherent in his wording (“you’re still”) is the implication that this latter state is better and more current than the former. The line also suggests, appropriately, that Nas is “sly”.

"You should know I bleed Blue, but I ain't a Crip, though ..." (Jay Z – Empire State of Mind) | accepted

Blue blood is an English idiom for nobility (Spanish: Sangre Azul). Superficial veins, blue in color were visible on nobles due to a pasty-white indoor lifestyle made possible by their vast wealth and necessitated by their hereditary royal hemophilia (uncontrollable “bleeding” at even minor external/internal injuries).

Jay may be saying that he positively bleeds royalty/cash money, and further that gang affiliation is somehow ignoble or not part of his persona despite the color correlation.

In this interpretation the gang affiliation could signify Death (L.A. gangs are/were notoriously violent and murderous)— and though Jay bleeds, he’s not dying (gang-affiliated). Hemophiliacs are incredibly fragile and in olden times would die from mere scratches, so if he’s bleeding and surviving he’s clearly no fragile hemo.

To simplify: Jay’s claiming that despite his royalty and despite not being gang affiliated, he’s one tough dude.

"Giving mics men-e-strual cycles" (Nas – It Ain't Hard to Tell) | rejected

this phrase might suggest that his rhymes are so potent he can bestow human life on the mics he uses… and womanizer that he is, they’re all women. with menstrual cycles.

"Deep like the Shining, sparkle like a diamond" (Nas – It Ain't Hard to Tell) | rejected

“the shining” could also be a name for the Generic Divine, short for “the shining one” or some such phrase

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