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For a certain generation of young, professional folks of color, Jay-Z’s lyrics have provided more than just entertainment.

Many of us, born on blocks our friends never made it off of, raised in an era where our older brothers, uncles, and sometimes our fathers were hustlers, but reared to understand the value of educating ourselves and transcending our environment, hear Jay-Z’s lyrics differently than the average fan. For us, many of his lyrics have come to represent the millennial’s cross between W.E.B, Dubois’ Souls of Black Folk and Sun Xu’s Art of War. Jay’s duality is one we can relate to — that of trying to reconcile, exist, and prosper in a world vastly different than the one from which we’ve come. His commitment to winning by outthinking his peers mirrors our own navigation through the rough waters of a professional career.

Today, I want to take a moment to share with y’all some of my favorite Hov lyrics. These are the ones I constantly repeat on the job… whether I’m feeling like I’m under attack, plotted against, or like I’m just the Illest Motherf*cker Alive – Hov always has a line to match my mood. Flip through the slideshow below, check out some of my favorites – and share with me some of yours.

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And of course, I gotta leave you with one of the most universally applicable Hip-Hop lyrics of all time:
Stay low and keep firing.

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