Album: In My Lifetime, Vol. 1
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam
The street life comes with paranoia. Boatloads of it. Someone or something is always watching. Closely. Waiting on you to make your first mistake. On “Streets Is Watching,” Jay dove deep into his inner psyche to speak on the subject; including foiled plots, brushes with death, and a conscious that weighed heavily on him.
The track featured two samples. One was dialogue the hit gangsta movie, Sleepers (“Going soft if a habit, you've got to keep yourself mean”). The second was "I Got The" by Labi Siffre. Due to the Siffre sample, even the album version of the song is censored (similar to Kanye's “School Spirit”). Even then, the song still became an instant anthem. Jay took the song a step further and created a full-length movie with a soundtrack based around it. Yeah, the streets were watching, but so was everyone else.
13. Jay-Z "Streets Is Watching" (1997)