It’s been an incredible start to the year for Hip-Hop music fans. A lot of artists from, Kanye to Kendrick to Royce da 5’9 to Drake and most recently Chance The Rapper, have dropped solid projects and kept the culture fed. We’re already half way into 2016 (got damn time moves fast), and there’s still a lot more music to come from some big named artists. So upon hearing that Pusha T had a new single featuring the legendary Hov himself, I knew some heat was about to fuck the summer up! Two of the best lyrically driven rappers on the same track? Best believe this track was going to put Hip-Hop in check, and the whole game was going to catch this work like the Cavs caught death by that boy Livingston. This is the exact track that this Trap dominated culture needed to baptize the youths’ minds, and deliver new life to the church of MCs. So after 30+ listens on day 1 alone, I realized how deep these lyrics go. Every listen would bring some new enlightenment to these scriptures, so I thought I’d get my “genius” on and decode the track for hip-hop fans alike. Without further ado, I present to you Drug Dealers Decoded.
[Verse 1: Pusha T]
Lyric: Valentino summers and wave runners
Chains on my niggas like slave runners
The change from slave chains to free gold chains.
Straight from Pusha himself: he’s trying to change his wardrobe and since nobody’s on Valentino, he’s rocking that all summer and trend setting before people wave ride.
Lyric: Drug dealers anonymous
How many Madonnas can that Mazda fit?
Push starts to paint the lifestyle of a drug dealer. In most cases someone who’s pushing white is driving that type of car. Rappers love to personify cocaine, hence Madonna being code for coke.
Lyric: My brick talk is more than obvious, it’s ominous
Garages, the phantom, ghouls, ghosts and goblins
Blonde mohawk the collection I’m Dennis Rodman
Push has often been criticized for only talking about cocaine in his raps, but he’s one of the best (if not the best) to do it. So it’s no surprise that he’s once again talking about it here. The blonde mohawk refers to the interior of his car (he loves to personify inanimate objects), and he metaphorically calls himself Dennis Rodman. Rodman was a NBA player that would often dye his hair all sorts of outrageous colors. Plot twist, Rodman also used to date Madonna and seeing as Push calls himself Rodman, he’s basically stating that he’s been tight with the white (coke) for some time. Also note Push refers to his brick talk as ominous and uses 4 monsters; phantom, ghouls, ghosts and goblins, to allude to how ominous his brick talk is.
Lyric: The money count is the only moment of silence
Cause hush money balances all this drugs and violence
Hush money is used to keep the opposition (cops, officials, government agents) quiet. It helps to create a balance in the drug game. Both sides of the law here are dabbling on the wrong side of ethics. The use of balance can also be metaphorical for the law, a scale of justice, or the scales used to measure drug weight.
Lyric: Hat trick under my mattress
Date I stop still has an asterisk after it
A hat trick refers to 3 and is a great feat in the world of sports. Push is just stating that he has either 3 million or 3 amounts of drugs under his mattress which is often the place to hide product. To put an asterisk on something means there’s more to it. The asterisk on his stop date refers to the fact that he can pick right back up in the game if he wanted to, which is tied in to the following line “After all I can make a call”.
Lyric: After all I can make a call
I can baptize a brick
As I wash away my sins like a catholic
Who the fuck ain’t mastered this
To baptize someone is to initiate them into catholicism as a follower of Christ and make them new. Push paints the picture that he can get right back into the game and start anew again. Baptisims require the dunking of someone’s head (or full body) into water to cleanse them. Push makes reference to baptizing because the mixture of cocaine and water creates something new and pure: crack. Lastly, to be a master would be considered as reaching the highest level. In order to be able to baptize someone you must be high up in the church as a priest. Pusha is also a master of his craft.
Lyric: America’s nightmare’s in Flint
Children of a lesser God when your melanin’s got a tint
And I can’t even mention what I sent or what I spent
Cause my name in 18 wheelers is evidence
Flint Michigan had a water crisis. The town of Flint is predominantly black. Melanin is what gives skin pigment colour, we all have it, just to different degrees. Push notes that the black people in Flint are treated as lesser due to their skin colour. He then states that he helped those out in the crisis (he tried to do it secretly), and does so in such a gorgeous manner (he really lives his raps!). 18 wheeler trucks are used for transportation of products, and since he had to move large weight in the game, any statements of shipments now could be thought of as drug movements. Probably one of the hardest bars on this track.
Lyric: I put my boos in those cruise collections
Life’s a bitch
A to Z on her shoe collection, take your pick
Paid in full like ’86, Gs on my body
The new Gucci has less monograms, God’s got him
Push start’s off by shouting out Nas and AZ who had a track called “Life’s a Bitch”. The girls he’s with have their pick of whatever shoes they want and they’re all Paid in Full, which is also a nod to Rakim and Eric B who had an album titled Paid in Full. The single dropped in 86, but the album was released in 87. The 86 G’s on Push’s body is a double entendre, the outfit he’s wearing is Gucci which has a lot of G’s on it, but G’s also refers to money hence why he’s “paid in full”.
Lyric: Let he without sin cast the first stone
So I built that all glass quad level first home
Shatter all of your misconceptions
Hold all of them missing weapons
The previous line “God’s got him” just ties into the biblical theme of this first line “Let he without sin cast the first stone.” This famous biblical quote states that you shouldn’t judge others. Since no one is without sin, Push has no fear of any “stones” being thrown his way, so he lives his luxurious life without threat. Fun fact, Pusha’s actually having a glass house built in Maryland.
The use of shattering misconceptions ties into the glass house imagery and the holding of all missing weapons refers to holding all the ammunition for your misconceptions of his life.
Lyric: You thought I would miss my blessing
The ultimate misdirection ya
Pusha’s life although troubled with the game, is now full of luxury and blessings. The ultimate come up.
[Clip: Tomi Lahren]
Your husband was drug dealer
For 14 years he sold crack cocaine
And bishhh? What’s his life like now? *laughing face emoji*
This clip comes from a rant by Lahren on her show which consisted of a discussion on Beyoncé and her half time performance at the Super Bowl that included Black Panther attire.
[Verse 2: Jay Z]
Lyric: Federico Fellini in the flesh
Sergio Tacchini inside his mesh
A reference to two Italian artists: Federico is a director and Sergio is sportswear designer. Both highly revered in their crafts, similar to Hov.
Lyric: Bitch I been brackin’ since the ‘80s
Google me baby, you crazy
’89 in London pull the Benz up
Type it in, Google’s your friend bruh
Brackin’ is a letter switch used by bloods. They replace words that start with the letter “C” with the letter “B” as a statement of their affiliation. This switch has now been popularized so you don’t have to be a blood to use it. Here, Jay’s been crackin’ (selling dope/crack) since the 80’s. I actually hit up Google and saw this London shot which was actually some real shit.
Lyric: 14-year drug dealer and still counting. Who deserves the medal of freedom is my accountant
He been hula hooping through loop holes, working around shit
IRS should’ve had the townhouses surrounded
Jay replies to the remarks of Tomi Lahren, then proceeds to give props to his accountant who kept him out of jail. The beauty of these 4 bars lies in the theme of circles. Jay’s accountant maneuvered (hula hoops are round and require circular movements to function) through loop holes and worked around shit. Take note of how Jay pronounces working around shit, in that it sounds like “working round shift”. To work a round shift would be someone who works tirelessly around the clock, which is what Jay’s accountant had to do. This also plays into the theme of circles. The IRS should have had the has surrounded (circled) for his time in the drug game.
Lyric: Thanks to the lawyers
I marbled the foyer
I tore the floor up
Yeah, that’s for Koi fish
Jay survived the game and now he’s living a drastically different life. There’s contrast here between his past life in the game and his lifestyle now. Marble is a white substance that metaphorically represents cocaine. In this instance however, rather than hiding the coke in his walls, it’s how he’s decorated his house. To tear ones floors up is a technique often used to hide coke, but in this case it’s for his expensive Koi fish. How many people got Koi fish in their floors tho? GOAT.
Lyric: We been dining on oysters
I walk though the garage it’s like multiple choices
I told ‘em pull the Royce up
I’m getting ghost, I’m hearing noises
I think it’s the boys, but I been banking at Deutsche
Jay’s garage has “multiple choices” of cars, but he’s down to pick the Royce. The Rolls Royce also has a model called ghost which ties into the next line of him getting ghost. Often with supernatural occurrences people tend to hear noises. This adds another layer to Jay getting ghost; he’s paranoid about his past, but he feels secure in that he banks off-shore to keep his paper trail safe.
Lyric: We got storefronts, we got employee stubs
We been opening studios and 40/40s up
Jay refers to his actual businesses as storefronts and paints the picture of hiding his drug money.
Lyric: The paper trail is gorgeous
Cases we buries ‘em
Before Reasonable Doubt dropped, the jury hung
Reasonable Doubt was Jay’s premier studio album. A hung jury is a jury that can’t decide on a verdict beyond a reasonable doubt. This leads to a mistrial. Take in how Jay pronounces jury as “jewellery”, a double entendre, which means before his first album he was making enough to have his jewellery hang.
Lyric: Bling bling
Every time I come around your city bling bling
Ties into the previous “hung jewellery” line and also references Lil Wayne’s hook on the song “bling bling”.
Lyric: My tenure took me through Virginia
Ask Teddy Riley ‘bout me
Ask the Federalis ‘bout me
In the previous line Jay states he comes through cities shining. He follows it up by mentioning his moves through Virginia as a dealer, which is also Pusha’s home state. Teddy Riley is also a famous producer from the VA.
Lyric: Tried to build a cell around me
Snatched my nigga Emory up
Tried to get him to tell about me
He told 12, “Gimme 12”
He told them to go to hell about me
Emory is Jay’s cousin who got caught by the feds and did a bid of 10 years on cocaine charges. The cops tried to get him to tell on Jay, but Emory kept it quiet. The first 12 refers back tot he feds, and “gimme 12” refers to the jury and him taking his chances in court. In the end Emory only did 10 years in prison, and 6 on parole since convinced the courts to let him out by offering Emory employment.
Lyric: Drug dealers anonymous
Y’all think Uber’s the future, our cars been autonomous
Mules move the drums, take ‘em to different spots
We just call the shots by simply moving our thumbs
Uber is globally popular and has revolutionized the transportation world wide. In the future, the company is looking to expand into self-driving cars. Jay makes note that he’s so ahead of the game, his cars have been autonomous for a while. He’s often pictured getting out the back of cars, and according to Memphis Bleek he hasn’t driven a car himself in years. As previously stated Jay tells em to pull the Royce up. In the game, Jay’s got mules (movers) to drive the product for him and he creates the picture of calling the shots by simply directing the drivers. Similarly, the use of Uber requires the user to use their thumbs to open the app and order a car. Jay alludes to directing his shipments in such a futuristic fashion. Take a second to point a fake gun with your fingers and fire. What did you just use to make the gun go bang? Probably your thumb.
Lyric: I’m a course of miracles with this shit
Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists
Therein lies the piece of God
This quote is derived from a spiritual book called A Course in Miracles. Piece and peace of God are interchangeable in this.
Lyric: I always knew I was a prophet, but I couldn’t find a decent job
Dual double meanings here:
1) Jay knew he was a prophet (spreads his words lyrically), but he couldn’t find a decent Jah.
Note how jay pronounces the word job as Jah here. Jah refers to God. Jay knew he was meant for spreading a message, but he couldn’t find a god that aligned with his beliefs. This also ties into the the previous line about “the peace/piece of God”.
2) Jay knew he was a profit, but he couldn’t find a decent job
As a hustler Jay knew he could make money, but he just couldn’t find a viable outlet until he got into this rap game. Now he’s a wealthy business owner.
Lyric: Life made me ambidextrous
Countin’ with my right, whipping’ white with my left wrist
FBI keep bringing them all white vans through
Jay shows his knowledge of pop culture and the internet by making a play with the viral video “Damn Daniel!”. Much like Daniel, the FBI keeps coming through with them white vans, but in this case it’s in hopes of catching Jay.