3 dice Cee-lo, 3 card Marley Empire State of Mind by Jay Z (Ft. Alicia Keys)

Continuing with the references including the number 3, Hova refers to two street games:

  • A play on 3-card Monte, the gambling hustle you see played in the blocks.

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It's a pity half of y’all won’t make it
Me I gotta plug Special Ed "I Got It Made"
Empire State of Mind by Jay Z (Ft. Alicia Keys)

While many New Yorkers die or fade into the slums, Jay Z “made it”.

Special Ed was a fellow Brooklyn rapper who rapped about what it meant to “make it” in his best known song, “I Got It Made”, released on his 1989 album Youngest in Charge when Special Ed was just 16.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYUPmiT-Yzw

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Look, it's morning no yawning or nothing
I ain't sleep and I'm up trying to take a nigga lunch
Fly In by Lil Wayne

Taking someone else’s lunch (or lunch money) is the iconic image of the bully. Here Lil Wayne recasts the bully as the tireless hero

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Hate "bitch niggas": bitches with power
Vacate when the kitchen get hotter
Fly In by Lil Wayne

Play on the saying “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”, which resonates even more in Wayne’s world because the “kitchen” is where the crack gets cooked

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She got an ass that'll swallow up a G-string Run This Town by Jay Z (Ft. Kanye West & Rihanna)

Case in point, Kanye’s girlfriend at the time, Amber Rose:

AmberRose

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It's crazy how you can go from being Joe Blow
To everybody on your dick...no homo
Run This Town by Jay Z (Ft. Kanye West & Rihanna)

These opening lines presage a whole verse about what it’s like to become famous quickly, and how Kanye’s taken advantage of the fact that he’s done it.

What happened to the days when you could say things like “so many niggas on my nuts I thought I lost my dick” without having to plead “no homo”?

It’s also worth noting that Kanye is using the “no homo” trope just to set up the no Volvo joke: Kanye is on the record saying that rap is too homophobic and the use of “no homo” in a Kanye verse is completely out of character if not understood as a set-up for the joke

The phrase “Joe Blow” means a hypothetical average man. So Kanye is simply saying it’s crazy how you can go from being classed as average to being classed as super-star and having everybody on you and buzzing off you which in his terms is “everybody on your dick” The “no homo” bit was just him adding flair to the bar and setting up the line to rhyme with the next bar.

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Back to running circles round niggas
Now we squared up
Run This Town by Jay Z (Ft. Kanye West & Rihanna)

He’s saying he “broke even” (which is what gambling addicts usually tell people when they lost like $5K)

Note the shape wordplay (circles, squares)

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Paper
I'm a couple bands down
Run This Town by Jay Z (Ft. Kanye West & Rihanna)

Reference to Jay’s $5 million buy-out of his contract at Def Jam, described in greater detail two lines later

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And our girls are blackbirds riding with they Dillingers Run This Town by Jay Z (Ft. Kanye West & Rihanna)

This is a clever play on a line from “Public Enemies”, the movie about the famous bank robber John Dillinger. In the movie, Dillinger’s dying words are to tell his girlfriend “Bye bye blackbird”

Jay-Z is taking the affectionate term blackbird literally: his crew’s girlfriends/wives are all black birds (bird being a term for girl). He’s using the term as a way of casting himself and his friends as Dillinger-esque gangsters

dillinger

A Derringer pistol is sometimes referred to as a Dillinger.

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Pledge your allegiance
Get your fatigues on
All black everything
Run This Town by Jay Z (Ft. Kanye West & Rihanna)

Roc Nation is like an army and you can show that you’re part of it by wearing the all-black uniform.

This has become a certified Hip Hop meme, appearing in “Murder To Excellence” and even a namesake song by Lupe Fiasco.

After all, Jay said he was a trendsetter.

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