My favorite verse is from “Memory Lane”:
My window faces shootouts, drug overdoses.
Live amongst no roses, only the drama, for real.
A nickel-plate is my fate, my medicine is the ganja.
Here’s my basis my razor embraces, many faces,
You’re telephone-blown, Black,
Stitches or fat shoelaces.
I love that Nas acknowledges his place, in the window. He’s doomed, but he’s self-aware.
And that last half is the best because it is so specific to New York City in 1994. If you were around, you remember kids carrying razor blades in their mouth, spitting them out in a crowded club with a puff of air, slicing another kid’s face from ear to the corner of the mouth… That’s why, contrary to what all the lyric websites tell you, Nas is not saying that his telephone is “blowing.” He’s saying “telephone blown,” meaning your face has been blown wide open with a telephone cut (also known as a buck-fifty, because of the number of stitches you’d need). The last line refers to your scar, either stitched up or left with a puffy “shoelace” keloid.
Pure head crack. You have to run to keep up.