A play on the common phrase “Easier than taking candy from a baby”, with Cyclone comparing that to the ease with which he dominates the rap game
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Oftentimes, when a first year person, in any area, makes a mistake, people call them “rookie mistakes”. However, Cyclone never makes a blunder, so he never has to use this excuse.
XXL magazine has an annual issue where they name the top Freshmen of the Year, who are featured on the cover of that issue, and Cyclone is determined to make that list.
Probably the baddest of all apes, and could easily “rip your soldiers in half”
Lupe hinted at the character’s illustrious criminal history throughout the saga, so a man like him would certainly recognize who the cops patrolling his block were.
The purpose of this verse was for Nas to share with us his dealings in the crack game, although the portrait is “blurry” because he can’t give too many details, for obvious reasons
“Throwing rocks at the penitentiary” refers to taking part in regular, small-time illegal activities, as if threatening to wake the monster called Justice. Also wordplay on selling crack rocks.
Isn’t it crazy how these four words, seemingly just filler, are actually a double entendre?
Nas is calling himself during his crack dealing days a poor excuse AND
These words introduce the next line
Might actually be a triple entendre in the sense that he is saying that he 1. was a poor excuse (for a human being for selling crack in his past) 2. blaming society for his decisions would be a poor excuse in general and 3. intro to the next line.
Nas starts to get mad at America, saying that he didn’t get the proper opportunity to succeed…. But catches himself, knowing that it was his decision to do everything he did.
Additionally, Nas might be utilizing some wordplay with “Ivy League” and “played fair,” therefore invoking the rich (pun intended) athletic traditions of the Ivy League
Nas dropped out of school in ninth grade, eliminating any chance of him getting a corporate job or anything like that, to instead graduate from the school of hard knocks (sorry for the corny cliche….)
Nas experiences regret at this decision, because this song is providing a narrative of the times during his crack dealing days where he was unsuccessful