What do bars mean in rap? – Book Of Rhymes: The Poetics Of Hip Hop

They’re more or less a safe place or a playground. Everybody’s got their little corner of it.

— DJ Dahi


I’m from Detroit, but I lived in Milwaukee and was raised by a Greek immigrant family—my grandparents did the iron work. I was raised in this place called Mac’s Kitchen. There’s a big place, and we’d go there. I grew up in the same neighborhood as Biggie Smalls who was from Mac’s. Me and Biggie smoked a lot of weed. Biggie was a huge, huge, huge fan of Mac’s.

The first time MC JEFF showed up, we got him one of these new machines: this little thing that had the lights. I brought some weed and asked to smoke it. I told him if it tasted bad, he didn’t have to smoke it. He said, “That’s fucking bad.” I said, “Come over there and smoke this. You have nothing to smoke.” So he came over and smoked. I said, “Why don’t you smoke it?” And he said it was better than the dope.

When I went to school that day, everyone was sitting down. It was a small room that had no chairs in it. They had a big TV there that was projecting cartoons. At one point, MC JEFF walked over and sat right next to me and said, “Who’s on first?” And we were like, “Geez, you’re right. You’re on first” so you could tell he was on some kind of shit. I asked him, “Why are you on first?” He said, “I’m from the ghetto,” but nobody there cared because we were all black; they knew us all. After that, he was a dope nigga, and my homie went up to him and said, “You think this nigga’s from the ghetto?” and he’s like, “You got a dick about you.” All our homies were going, “Hey, what’s up, nigga?” But his real name was “J-Mac.” He was our homie so we just called him J-Mac. You would walk down the street and you’d come to a place where there’d be a kid with J-Mac’s hair and he would just get in the car with that kid and just let loose. That’s what I miss most in the hood nowadays—my homies with those tattoos and that crazy shit.

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What do bars mean in rap? – Book Of Rhymes: The Poetics Of Hip Hop
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