1. "Can't Knock The Hustle"
Lyrics: "Your worst fear confirmed/Me and my fam roll tight like The Firm/Getting down for life, that's right, you better learn/While I play with fire, you burn/We get together like a choir, to acquire what we desire"
Lesson: Teamwork makes the dream work, so it's imperative to keep a close circle of trust when it pertains to those you surround yourself with -- especially when it comes to matters of business.
True hustlers know that it takes a team of tight knit role-players with various talents to flourish and help build a business that is lucrative. Keep your circle small and the family close.
2. "Ain't No Nigga"
Lyrics: "I keep it fresher than the next, bitch/No need for you to ever sweat the next bitch/With speed, I make the best bitch see the exit indeed/You gotta know you're thoroughly respected by me/You get the keys to the Lexus, with no driver/You got your own '96 something to ride/And keep your ass tight up in Versace, that's why/You gotta watch your friends you got to watch me, they conniving"
Lesson: They say behind every great man is a great woman and that statement has proved to be true more times than not throughout history. Keeping your business partners, employees, and customers happy is crucial, but having the favor of a good woman can make life much easier for an entrepreneur.
And when you have a loyal woman behind you, it's only right to shower her with gifts and affection while making her feel secure as the queen of the empire you've built together.
3. "Feelin' It"
Lyrics: "We paid the price to circle us, success – they turned my mic up/I'm 'bout to hit these niggas with some shit that'll light ya life up/If every nigga in your clique is rich, your clique is rugged/Nobody will fall cause everyone will be each others crutches/I hope you fools choose to listen, I drop jewels, bust it/These are the rules I follow in my life, you gotta love it"
Lesson: Having a strong network may be the determining factor of your net-worth, while a lack of one could prevent you from reaching your full earning potential. Relationships are key when conducting business, and can also help provide a safety-net when your operation catches a setback or falls on hard times. Invest in the people that invest in you and create strong alliances that are fruitful for both parties.
4. "Feelin' It"
Lyrics: "Even if it ain't sunny, hey, I ain't complaining/I'm in the rain doing a buck 40, hydroplaning/What, shorty? (Where you disappear to, son?) Maintaining/Putting myself in a position most of these rappers ain't in, I'm living"
Lesson: Adversity is a part of life that all successful people learn to embrace -- rather than fear. When confronted with an obstacle, train yourself to focus on the solution, not the problem, and put yourself in a position to improve the situation as presently constituted. Negative energy only amounts to energy wasted.
Lyrics: "This shit is wicked on these mean streets/None of my friends speak, we're all tryna win/But then again, maybe it's for the best though/Cause when they're saying too much/You know they're trying to get you touched"
Lesson: Never let those outside of your inner-circle know the inner-workings of your operation under any circumstance. Keeping critical information close to the vest lessens the chance of your plans going awry. Also, there's less of a chance that your competitors will a leg up on what your next move will be, so eep your mouth shut and your eyes open.
Lyrics: "We used to fight for building blocks/Now we fight for blocks with buildings that make a killing/The closest of friends when we first started/But grew apart as the money grew and soon grew black-hearted"
Lesson: Money is thought to be the root of all evil, and while that can be debated, what can't is the fact that it often can drive a wedge between the greatest of friends. Revenue and friendship can be balanced, but that feat is easier said than done when greenbacks are at stake and a disagreement over them can cause for an epic falling-out and the splintering of an empire. Money is a major issue, but always remember that you can't place a price on true friendship, so keep that in mind when navigating the waters of the business world.
7. "Can I Live"
Lyrics: "Why I'm watching every nigga watching me closely?/My shit is butter for the bread, they wanna toast me/I keep my head, both of them, where they supposed to be/Hoes'll get you sidetracked, then clapped from close feet"
Lesson: The trappings of success comes with an endless stream of women (or men) at your disposal, but beware of associating with those of the opposite sex that see you as their come-up.
There are countless stories of people falling victim to the charm of a smooth talker or being blinded by beauty, only to find themselves in dire straits and wondering where it all went wrong. Keep your mind on your money and progression, not consumed with lust, which has ruined more than a few great men and women throughout the course of history.
8. "Can I Live"
Lyrics: "However brief, I know this game got valleys and peaks/Expectation for dips, for precipitation we stack chips, hardly/The youth I used to be, soon to see a mill'in/No more Big Willie, my game has grown, prefer you call me William"
Lesson: Rainy days are just part of the territory when it comes to hustling up the corporate ladder or weathering the storms of life in general, so it's always a wise decision to save for a rainy day. And that doesn't just apply to money, but also extends to your relationships, opportunities, and assets. Always keep a trick up your sleeve and an ace in the hole to unveil when the time is right.
9. "Can I Live"
Lyrics: "True, this the streets school us to spend our money foolish/Bond with jewelers and watch for intruders/I stepped it up another level, meditated like a Buddhist/Recruited lieutenants with ludicrous dreams of gettin' cream
"Let's do this!"/It gets tedious/So I keep one eye open like CBS"
Lesson: Financial intelligence is an indispensable asset for any businessman and knowing what to spend your money on and invest your money in can determine how long you'll be able to last in the business world. Instead of acquiring items that depreciate in value, like jewelry or clothes, step it up a level and invest in stocks and bonds, or real estate, and watch your empire continue to expand.
10. "Brooklyn's Finest"
Lyrics: "Time to separate the pros from the cons/The platinum from the bronze/That butter soft shit from that leather on the Fonz/A S1 diamond from a I class don/A Chandon sipper from a Rosé nigga, huh?!" -
Lesson: Authenticity is coveted by everyone; no one likes a phony. But it's more than likely you'll come across a few posers and cons attempting to blend in with the real movers and shakers in hopes of faking it 'til they make it.
Being able to separate the genuine article from the artificial could save you valuable time, energy, and money, so be sure to know who you're dealing with and if they're The Real McCoy or it's all a facade.
11. Coming Of Age"
Lyrics: "I got this shorty on my block always clocking my rocks/He likes the style and profile I think he want to mock/He likes the way I walk, he see my money talking/To honeys hawking I'm the hottest nigga in New York and/I see his hunger pains, I know his blood boils/He want to run with me, I know this kid will be loyal"
Lesson: We all wanna be admired, but when admiration translates into loyalty, your circles of trust will be inpenetrable by those looking to undermine your efforts. Being able to separate worthwhile disciples from those simply green with envy is a crucial skill in selecting those you wish to include in your constituency. From the shorty on your block, to the eager intern clocking your every move around the office, keep an eye out for emerging talents that are in tune with your mission statement and willing to join the ranks as a loyal soldier for you cause.
11. Friend or Foe"
Lyrics: "Me, I run the show, oh, and these kids/Don't like nobody coming around here fucking with they dough for shit/You enterprising though, and I like'ya/But fuck with the big dogs yo, I gotta bite you/Look, it's out of my hands/And you getting money around here, it's not in the plans/So hop your ass out of that van, head back to Kansas/I'm sending niggas back up in campuses/Chance is slimmer than that chick in Calvin Klein pants is"
Lesson: The world of business may be a landscape of equal opportunity, but the players within it are known to be territorial and having a stronghold on your market is a strong indicator of success. But with that success comes competitors looking to enterprise and plant their soil on fertile land, making it important to have a little muscle behind you, whether it be with influencers in the community you serve or goons of the legal or gangster variety. To sustain your business's reputation as an iron-clad operation that's above reproach, be in a position to stand your ground in the face of rivals and aggressive upstarts.
13. "Coming of Age"
Lyrics: "I see myself in his eyes, I moved from Levi's/To Guess to Versace, now it's diamonds like Liberace/That's just the natural cycle, nobody want to be like Michael/Where I'm from, just them niggas who bounced from a gun/We out here trying to make hard white into cold green/I can help shorty blow out like Afro-Sheen/Plus I can relive my days of youth which is gone/That little nigga's peeps, it's time to put him on"
Lesson: Paying it forward is a great way to keep the blessings flowing, and that extends to professional settings, as well. Seeing a certain drive, hunger, and will to succeed in someone that reminds you of yourself should prompt you to help further their growth in any way possible.
In turn, you'll also be reinvigorating by helping to mold your mentee and may learn even more about yourself and pick up an added skill, all while forming an alliance and continuing to build your network.
14. "Coming of Age"
Lyrics: "I'm out here slinging, bringing the drama/Trying to come up in the game and add a couple of dollar signs to my name/I'm out here serving, disturbing the peace/Life could be better like my man reclined in plush leather seats/He's selling weight, I'm selling eight balls/Sixteen, trying to graduate to pushing quarters y'all/I ain't going to sweat him I'm a let him come to me/If he give me the nod then these niggas going to see"
Lesson: Every young lion dreams of one day becoming king and running the show, but you must learn to crawl before you walk. Memphis Bleek's blue-collar approach to working towards becoming a more successful hustler is an example of the dedication, confidence, and eagerness to be a valuable asset that can make someone more attractive as a possible protege or employee. Always give your best effort and be sure to make the most of your opportunities, you never know who's watching.
16. "Bring It On"
Lyrics: "Liaison for days on end/Money make the world go around so I made some to spend/Can I live, did dough with my nigs/Dividends flow like the Mississippi Riv' looking jig/Can't do for dolo, had to turn away when Tony killed Manolo/That's real, mixed feelings like a mulatto/Thug thought he was O.G. Bobby Johnson/I played him like Benny Blanco, mano a mano"
Lesson: Relationships can sometimes turn sour in life, making it essential to recognize when it's time to pull the plug on a project or cut ties with an associate. Cutting the fat out of your life can be emotionally trying and may conjure up mixed emotions, but all wounds heal over time and self-preservation is key to success.
17. "Bring It On"
Lyrics: "Absence of malice in my palace/Call cousin now Dallas trigger finger with the callus/Tip scales from mail to keep these niggas off balance/Your frequent stops to O.T.B. you feeding me/Steam a nigga scheming on the wrist action with the gleams/Jewels for Pop Duke fulfill your dreams/Never put the pure brown sugar before the dirty green cream"
Lesson: Jaz-O's verse on "Bring It On" is one of the few he recorded at the behest of Roc-A-Fella, but is more than worth its weight in gold. Among the couplets included is a bit of sage advice from his father to always fulfill your dreams and keep your mind off of relations and your mind on the money. And keeping your palace absent of malice is always paramount to living a productive life and conducting business.
Lyrics: "This is the number one rule for your set/In order to survive got to learn to live with regrets/On the rise to the top many drop, don't forget/In order to survive got to learn to live with regrets"
Lesson: We all make mistakes in business, not to mention life as a whole, but constantly living in a state of regret is an exercise in futility. Some shots will be missed and all things may not manifest themselves in the way that we want, but it's better to pick yourself up and dust yourself off than dwell in what could've or should've been. Time only moves forever, never backwards, so get in the habit of learning from your regrets, not letting them define you.
Lyrics: "But you know niggas, think they guns can stop four niggas/Fronting like they're Big Willie but really owe niggas/Ho niggas, this year I'll show niggas, Think I'm slipping?/I'm about to send you a roommate, no bullshitting/But my hustle's going too well to hit him/You was right niggas want you to be miserable with them"
Lesson: Misery loves company and there hasn't been a great man or woman in history that wasn't targeted by those attempting to drag them down. The best approach to dealing with characters that focus on ruining your business and the great things going on in your life is to ignore them -- not stooping down to their level and allowing their bitterness and envy to infect you and poison your spirit. Keep your eyes on the prize and your mind off the haters.
20. "Can I Live II"
Lyrics: "My subliminal flows, create criminal odes/Sing along if y'all with me, til the end of the road/I'm cynical, when in the view of the public/And this is because, I'm defensive when I'm in interviews/The percentage who don't understand, is higher than the percentage who do/Check yourself, what percentage is you?"
Lesson: Everyone isn't mean to believe in your vision or even see it, for that matter, and that's perfectly fine. What's not fine is you letting either of those affect the amount of belief you have in yourself or what you're trying to accomplish.
There was once a popular theory that the world was flat and anyone that opposed that notion were deemed delusional, a notion which has since been proved laughable, which is just one of many examples of when the majority got it wrong. If a vision or a dream is worth believing in, stick to your guns and never allow not being understood to deter your from seeing it through.