Pick: "Juicy," verse one
"It was all a dream/ I used to read Word Up! magazine/ Salt-N-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine/ Hangin' pictures on my wall/ Every Saturday, Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl/ I let my tape rock till my tape popped/ Smokin' weed and bamboo, sippin' on private stock/ Way back, when I had the red-and-black lumberjack, with the hat to match/ Remember rappin', 'Da-ha, da-ha'/ You never thought that hip-hop would take it this far/ Now I'm in the limelight 'cause I rhyme tight/ Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade/ Born sinner, the opposite of a winner/ Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner/ Peace to Ron G, Brucey B, Kid Capri/ Funkmaster Flex, Lovebug Starsky/ I'm blowin' up like you thought I would/ Call the crib: same number, same 'hood, it's all good/ And if you don't know, now you know, n---a."
Where to find it: Ready to Die (1994)
Why: "Ready to Die was an album I was in the middle of," Usher recalled. "I was working with P. Diddy up in Scarsdale [on my first album]. I just made my introduction to New York. I remember records being made like 'Machine Gun Funk,' 'The What' with Method Man, 'Party and Bullsh--,' a lot of underground music that first solidified him as being a great MC with underground fans. He was doing a bunch of his early records with [Deric] "D-Dot" [Angelettie] and Easy Moe Bee. It was later, when he came with his big hit records, that confirmed it. What made him dope was that his lyrics were so vivid. Whether you were doing what he was rapping about or not, you felt like you were there. You felt like a kingpin or a hustler without having to go through it."