Can you name a song that has more lyrical depth than Lupe’s “Failure”?

                                                    lupe fiasco – failure

It’s mean, soldier
Now let me put the streets down like steamrollers

– Steamrollers pave streets (“putting them down”)
With the CATS that push
– CATS refers to Caterpillar Inc’s steamrollers
40 ounces through the hood, like King Cobras
– King Cobra is a malt liquors, mostly commonly known for its 40 ounces and seen in the hood
See me sling soda
Cause the extra foam in the split is mixed
It’s really 36

– Double meaning: King Cobras are famous for their 40 oz, 36oz is the beer and the other 4 oz is the foam; 36 oz – a key of cocaine
Used to buy toasters and clips
– Nicknames for guns and ammo
You can tighten your circle or boa constrict
– Boa Constrictors are known for squeezing their prey (“tightening their circle”)
While you was lighting your purple, I was over the scripts
– While folks were getting high (“purple” refers to kush, weed, etc.), Lu’s eyes were over his glasses, studying up (“scripts”)
See, I couldn’t walk the walk, couldn’t really talk the talk
Had to get my talk to properly explain my walk
Cause this lack in talk had my walk looking off
Now I’m over the limp
Watch how they mugs drop when they see my Verbal’s able (That’s the Usual)

– Last two lines refer to revelation in The Usual Suspects when Palminteri drops his coffee “mug” and realizes that Verbal Kint is “able” to walk (he’s “over the limp”,)
When I was po’, I was lo
Now me and my chaps cop Purple Label
It’s Ralph Lauren on the Rap Laureate

– Po & Lo refer to famed designer Ralph Lauren’s “Polo” clothing brand. “Chaps” is a British term, which ties into Purple Label, Ralph Lauren’s signature British line.
Niggas brownnose, they are like Alf to him
– Alf is a brown alien from late 80s/90s sitcom ALF (who has a “brown nose”)
Runners at Interscope are not as stout as him
– Interscope is an record label while stout is a play on words and a reference to Steve Stoute, who once held an executive position at Interscope Records.
Please don’t enter scope
– Plays on “Interscope” from previous line
It’s gonna be a whole lot of IV’ing and respirating
– IV’ing is a play on words referring to Jimmy Iovine, one of the founders of Interscope Records.
If I lean out this window with Irene
– People used to call their guns by female names so they couldn’t be traced (like how a 9mm handgun is referred to as a “Nina”), which also ties into the previous line (getting shot, put in the hospital, being on IV’s and respirator systems)
Niggas as tall as Yao Ming
With L-U-P-Emperor
Is the foundation’s high beams and the antennas
It’s so serious every time I write my John Hancock like
Could damn near see Detroit
Niggas is scared of heights

– Serious is a play on words, a reference to the Sears Tower in Chicago; John Hancock Center is a Chicago skyscraper and antennas sit atop it. Lupe is the “foundation” of hip hop and niggas is scared of the depth of his rhymes (“heights”)
This is saran wrap and aluminum foil
Some potpourri, a little machine oil
I, stack my paper and throw off my cents
This is top flo’, better look out below
Pennies from heaven is the same as the semi from the second
And I reign supreme
Turn your umbrellas upside down
Did you even catch the change in theme? (this is gangsta man)

– Saran wrap, aluminum foil, potpourri and machine oil are all used to disguise the smell of drugs from police dogs; Cents is a double meaning for “scents” (which ties into the previous lines); Flo is a play on words for “floor” and “flow”, continuing the building metaphor; Pennies (a known myth stating if dropped from a building, a penny could kill a human) & bullets from a semi “rain” at you, which ties into the next line (“I rain/reign supreme”); Normally, an umbrella is right-side up, but you turn it upside down to literally “catch the change” (referring to the “pennies from heaven” line)
The entire first verse features a subtle movement of height theme from paving streets, then he’s “over the limp”, meaning he’s getting taller, then up to the foundations, to the John Hancock center where “you could damn near see Detroit”.
[2nd Verse]
And them niggas ain’t Was, nor from his regime
-Was’ is short for Wasulu, Lupe’s government name and “regime” refers to his label, 1st & 15th.
Gangsta lean
Hats on tilt like your Snickers ain’t drop out the vending machine
You gotta put more money in
And I shake niggas up every time I drop a bar (2 for 1)

– “Gangsta lean” plays on “tilt” in the next line. When a person’s Snickers gets stuck in the vending machine, people either put more money in (to get 2) or shake the vending machine (or “tilt” it). Bar is a double meaning for bar (as in rhyme) and bar (as in candy bar).
It’s horse in the Porsche and bricks in the box
Like mo’ money them, every time I cop a car

– Horse refers to the horsepower in a Porsche and bricks refer to stashed kilos of cocaine. He gets more money every time he gets a car (because of the cocaine in the box).
You see I’m a roller, right
So it might be a Rover, right
But every time I drop a ‘r’
It’s “over” aight

– “Rover” refers to a Range Rover. Drop an ‘r’ from “rover” and you get “over”… pretty simple.
Bet I be in her head like overnight
Like rollers, right
She the chauffeur, right
So I keep her sober
She don’t get fed ex like overnight
I am Dolemite

– Women put rollers in their hair when they go to bed (overnight). Fed Ex acts as a double meaning; Fed Ex (as in the overnight shipping company) and Fed X (as in fed ecstasy, which is why he “keeps her sober”). Dolemite, refers to the first line (“Bet I be in her head like overnight), a pimp, stays in his girl’s head and controls her mind.
All that gas can’t help you, but solar might
So just call on ‘sun’
Drop a ‘s’
Pick up an ‘o’
U-no, put it all on “one”

– Pretty self-explanatory: Solar power refers to the sun. SUN – ‘S’ + O = U-NO. Uno is spanish for the number “one”.
And, brace yourself like overbite
For that quiet nigga that relocated down south
Coming back to floss
Nigga get your molars right
Fix your grill
No plaque, but a whole lot of cheese
This the drill, Mr. Chill

– This particular set of bars feature a running dentist/mouth theme (“Brace”, “Overbite”, “Floss”, “Molars”, “Grill”, “Plaque”, “Cheese”, “Drill”). Braces are used to correct overbites. No platinum “plaque” but a whole lot of money (“cheese”). Mr. Chill is a reference to Lupe’s 1st & 15th partner, Chilly.
Gave me the green light like Yoda knife
So I’ma force my will
Like the Force I will
Of course you will

– Green light refers to Yoda’s lightsaber, of Star Wars fame. The next couple of bars feature a double meaning; one meaning refers to the use of the Force and the Jedi Mind Trick used to control people in Star Wars while the other meaning refers to Green Lantern, whose ring receives its power from sheer WILLpower.
Take my time
But weight behind only pertains to that Porsche grill
It’s snakes in the hood
Gotta watch for that Cobra bite
Let me see, there’s snakes in the hood
A bird, a horse behind the grill
Some gator on the seat
And a fox behind the wheel
No, it’s not Noah’s ark
Ahk, it’s just a flower’s start

– Weight is a play on words; (wait, which ties into the previous line (“take my time”), and weight (drugs), which is usually stashed behind the grill of a car. There’s also a continuing animal theme (“snakes”, “cobra”, “bird”, “horse”, “gator”, “fox”) and it’s tied together by Lupe revealing that it’s not Noah’s ark, a biblical boat that was used to store animals. “snakes = backstabbers”, “bird=drugs (behind the grill)”, “horse = horsepower”, “gator=alligator seats”, “fox=attractive female”.
[3rd Verse]
For achiever
My procedure’s
To proceed at all cost, no breather
I’m all walk
Rain, snow or fever
I’m all coughs, coming after your teacher

– Postal Service: through Rain, Sleet or Snow. “Coughs” line connects with the previous line’s fever reference.
I’m on the ball like FIFA
Viva, Lupe Dulce
Love Live the Leader

– FIFA is the Federation Internationale de Football Associatio (soccer). Dulce is Italian for “emperor”. Viva II Dulce is an Italian reference for “Long Live the Leader”, most famous for being Benito Mussolini’s catchphrase.
I remember I ain’t have sneakers
It was welfare
Coming up for air like whales there
But now I’m well here
I’m Shamu with twelve pair
And niggas wanna take my back to zero like tare, fare
Well, my scale’s clear

– Whales have to come up for air to breathe (unlike fish); Air is also a reference for (Nike) Airs, which ties into the sneaker theme and the next line’s reference to Filas. “Coming up for airs” also refers to how Lupe had to “come up” to be able to cop sneakers. “Well here” is a play on the world “whale”. Lupe is Shamu(the whale) with twelve pairs (of sneakers). On a scale, the “tare” button resets the scale back to 0 (“clear”).
You see world
It’s Braille here
I’m Bumpy Johnson, I stick to the streets
Keep my dogs out in front of me
You see what I’m saying
And I push keys wonderfully

– “See World” is a play on words for the marine mammal park “Sea World”, where Shamuis the name of the whale attraction; “See World” ties into the next line as Braille “shows” blind people how to read andwrite. “Bumpy Johnson” is a play on words (as braille lettering is “bumpy”) as Bumpy Johnson was a well-known Harlem Gangster. The “Keep my dogs” line has a double meaning (blind people travel with guide “dogs” and Bumpy Johnson kept his “dogs (protectors)” in front of him. He asks do you “see” what he’s saying and the final line is a double meaning (one meaning, being selling kilos of coke, andthe other, a reference to blind pianists (who push piano keys wonderfully).


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  • behind da barz

    --------the chemicals R identical, we're one & the same / with 7 letters in all 3 of my government names / walked on water, nah, neither did jesus / its a parable to make followers & readers believers--------i gave her my honorable discharge & she took it like a soldier--------what's a black beetle anyway, a fuckin roach-------she told the director she tryna get in a school-he said "take them glasses off and get in the pool"---------what ya'll call swag to me is faggotry-------my outfit so disrespectful / u go 'head n sneeze let my presence bless u--------its quite amazing that u rhyme like u do / & how u shine like u grew up in a shrine in peru-------its hard fuckin with niggaz u hope u can trust / ure a fool if ure main bitch is easy to fuck--------beyond the walls of intelligence life is divine / i think of crime when im in a new york state of mind - ------THE WAY SOME ACT IN RAP IS KINDA WACK / IT LACKS CREATIVITY & INTELLIGENCE / BUT THEY DON'T CARE BECAUSE THEIR COMPANY IS SELLING IT / ITS MY PHILOSOPHY ON THE INDUSTRY--------From days I wasn't "Abel/able", there was always "Cain/caine-------know how to leave anything in 30 seconds / when you feel the heat coming & flee with the murder weapon--------ayo my silent moments' loud as the crack of thunder / my hunger like the crocodile that attacked the hunter-------i'm something between platinum & flop, underground & mainstream / conscious, backpack, scratch dat; same thing---------this phiscal year im'a stay hot, buzzin / wit dudes that help me shoot like a-rod's cousin-------i fight chicks who bite dicks / give 'em lock-jaw then make 'em fight pits ------all we see is terrorism on telievision ------i'm da illest nigga alive watch me prove it / i'll snatch your crown with your head still attatched to it ------slap your face till your head ache your neck break / the next day slash your throat thru the neckbrace ------ I'm ahead of the game, ahead of these lames / I'm a head case, the head nurse gets me better with brain ------ure now dealin with da kid who heat-holds & reloads / like god gave him a gta ammunition cheat-code ------once upon a time i used to grind all night / with dat coke residue that was ipod white ------ --i took trips with so much shit in the whip / that if the cops pulled us over the dogs would get sick (sniff) ------ i put my lifetime in between the paper's lines / i'm da quiet storm nigga who fight rhyme ------brain cells are lit ideas start to hit / next the formation of words dat fit / at da table i sit making it legit / when my pen hits da paper...aah shit -------i save money while u spendin ure doe / i must stash like da hair between your lip & your nose ------age don't count in the booth / when your flow stayed submerged in the fountain of youth -------when i'm writing i'm trapped in between the lines / i escape when i finish da rhyme - ------if we can't eat together then u aint my mans / so when u see me in da streets dont shake my hand- -----money is da root of all evil / dats why u always gotta now where u stand with your people--------i can show u how to gamble your money, handle a gun / & be a family man & go home to your sun- -------black diamonds in my jesus-piece / MY GOD-------its like da ball be over the plate & they dont call it a strike- ------i'm a gangsta & a gentleman, show you both sides of the coin / knife at your throat-gun at your groin- --------my testimonial be "death to a phony mc / you wanna impress me, show me a ki--------lord knows what homey would do if i showed him da 9 / a one-eyed man is king in the land of the blind--------on da road to riches & diamond rings / in the land of the blind a man with one eye is the king--------you lack the minerals & vitamins, iron & the niacin--------stares get exchanged then the 5th come out / the tough guy disappears then the bitch come out--------if you got a bith you dont argue with dat bitch / you dont listen to dat bitch all you do is fuck dat bitch-------know da bitch b4 you call yourself lovin it / nogga wit a benz fuckin it------went from $20Gs for blow to $30gs a show / to orgies wit hoes i never seen befo'-------i'm intelectual; passed more essays / than police motorcade parades thru east l.a.-------DEAD IN THE MIDDLE OF LITTLE ITALY LITTLE DID WE KNOW / WE RIDDLED SOME MIDDLE-MAN WHO DIDN'T DO DIDDLY-------visualizing the realism of life in actuality / fuck who's da baddest; a person's status depends on salary-------mechanical movement, understandable smooth shit / that murderers move with-the thief's theme--------DEEP LIKE "THE SHINING" SPARKLE LIKE A DIAMOND / SNEAK AN UZI ON DA ISLAND IN MY ARMY JACKET LINING / HIT THE EARTH LIKE A COMET - INVASION / NAS IS LIKE THE AFRO-CENTRIC ASIAN; ½ MAN, ½ AMAZING-------& why certainly i'm squirtin / bust a nut then get up & wipe my dick on your curtain-------walk by your casket & spit in your face--------i know how to get my peers off me / make 'em cry & die from high blood-pressure cuz tears are salty-------i'm not trying to give you love & affection / i'm tryna give you 60 seconds of erection / then im'a give you cab fare & directions / get your independent ass outta here - question?---------black cat is bad luck; bad guys wear black / must've been a white guy who started all that--------either you're slinging crack-rocks or you got a wicked jumpshot--------all us blacks got is sports & entertainment--------2 many athletes, actors & rappers / but not enough niggaz at nasa - ------why did bush knock down the towers?--------I REACT LIKE MIKE / ANY ONE TY-SON, JOR-DAN, JACK-SON / action, pack gunz, ridiculous--------all the teachers couldn't reach me & my mom couldn't beat me / hard enough to make up for my pop not seeing me---------kings from queens, from queens comes kings / we're raising hell like a class when the lunch bell rings---------excuse me miss, can i give you a minute? / may i buy you a glass of ice with liquor in it?--------what goes around comes around i figure / now we got white kids calling themselves nigga / the tables turn as the crosses burn...---------YOU LOVE TO HEAR THE STORY AGAIN & AGAIN / OF HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED WAY BACK WHEN--------i guess they got a grudge cause i won't budge / playin tough, staring down the judge with my hands cuffed---------A CHILD IS BORN WITH NO STATE OF MIND / BLIND TO THE WAYS OF MANKIND--------who shot biggie smalls? if we don't get them they gon' get us all / i'm down to run up pn them crackers in their city hall----------its kinda hard to be optimistic / when your homey is laying dead in a casket----------they say the blacker the berry; the sweeter the juice / i say the darker the flesh; then the deeper the roots---------i took your breath away then we'd perform cpr---------there's no real way it can be explained / i guess its just the way i smile when i hear your name--------CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME / C.R.E.A.M. GET THE MONEY, DOLLAR DOLLAR BILL Y'AAAAALL------------see I’m a poet to some, a regular modern day shakespeare / jesus christ the king of these latter day saints here / To shatter the picture in which of that as they paint me as / a monger of hate and satan a scatter-brained atheist--------i remember marvin gaye used to sing to me / he had me feeling like black was the thing to be------------this be that put-you-out-your-misery song / that makes you ask your man 'is this the joint he's dissin me on?'---------foul all your life now ure 90 / on ure death bed u regret being grimey---------INDUSTRY RULE #4080, RECORD COMPANY PEOPLE ARE SHAAADYYYY / so kids watch your back cause i think they smoke crack---------society's a weak excuse for a man-----------planet earth my place of birth / born to be the sole controller of the universe---------the mic had my prints, on on it was a body---------a squealer tells, but the dealer still sells---------some young male put in jail / lawyer so good his bail was on sale----------i'm just takin a piss......unless you're gonna do it----------fuck street clothes, we thug it out in tuxedos / stomp niggaz with hard bottoms in casinos--------people higher up have the lowest self-esteem / & the prettiest people do the ugliest things-----------IF YOU ADMIRE SOMEONE YOU SHOULD GO 'HEAD & TELL 'EM / PEOPLE NEVER GET THE ROSES WHILE THEY CAN STILL SMELL 'EM-----------goddamn, what a nigga gotta do to make a million / without the fbi catching feelings--------i got a story to tell / in these streets we got drugs & guns for sale---------we keep the nine tucked chop dimes up rap about it / wild out fuck niggaz up laugh about it---------- read between tha lines of ya eyes and ya brows / ya handshake aint matchin ya smile---------what the fuck i rap for? to push a fuckin rav-4?-------fuck all the glamour & glitz, i plan to get rich / i'm from new york & never was a fan of the knicks----------the white boy blossomed after dre endorsed him / his flow on renegade-fuckin awesome...applaud him-------before i start you know i gotta / pay homage & respects to afrika bambaata---------DRUGS IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS / MONEY IS THE KEY TO SEX------i pimped my crib so i must exhibit------- I - WILL - NOT - LOSE !
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