Almost two decades on since its premiere on HBO, The Wire has quietly grown in status as one of the greatest TV shows ever produced.
With an unprecedented exploration of five Baltimore institutions – the drug trade, the docks, government, schools, and newspaper – immaculate writing, and realistic characters portrayals, The Wire has withstood the test of time and merged into pop culture, becoming a favourite for a lot of rappers.
Here are 7 of the best rap lyrics referencing the iconic show.
Young Jeezy – “The Real Is Back (Intro)”
Then you know it's D-Money. You know I run this shit Like Marlo, these ni**as Avon, had my auntie sellin that shit Like it was avon, y'all know what's real or what's fake, that's on shake
Album: The Real Is Back
Released: May 28, 2011
What’s up with the Avon slander Jeezy? He was the man on the streets and off the streets. Even though Marlo took the crown off him after their war in Season 3, the young kingpin still had to pay respects to him (and send Avon’s sister $100,000) while he was in prison. And when it was all said and done, it was Marlo standing on the corner at the end of the series without half the name or rep of Avon Barksdale.
Eminem – “Drop the Bomb on ’Em”
Oh my God, fuckin' bomboclaat I'm hard as Kenard, the little boy who shot Omar in The Wire Tie a whore up with barbed wire, you're nothing but a bra, boy I'm the real deal, and charbroil her on the bonfire
Album: Relapse: Refill
Released: December 21, 2009
Spoiler alert Eminem! Well, actually what’s the timeframe for spoilers? Omar got popped by Kenard in season 5, episode 8 which aired on February 24, 2008. Eminem dropped this song December 21, 2009. Surely that’s enough time to start revealing spoilers right? I take my first comment back, you’re all good Em.
Freeway & Jake One – “One Thing”
They need to promise death to you snitches Ain't do it, but you telling on them lying ass ni**a Don't want no trouble, you Bubbles from The Wire ass ni**a
Album: The Stimulus Package
Released: February 16, 2010
Poor Bubbles was just trying to get by, sell a few t-shirts and get high in peace. He didn’t want any trouble from nobody. It was only after Bodie and his crew beat down his boy Johnny that Bodie went to Greggs, and pretty much setting off the whole series with that one decision.
Lupe Fiasco ft. Young Jeezy & T.I. – Superstar (Remix)
This ain't even mine, this is Lupe's single And every time I watch The Wire, it's like I just left B-More Call me Marlo, come be my Snoopy
Released: September 25, 2007
In a show that’s rife with remorseless killers like Wee-Bey and dead-eyed kingpins like Marlo, Felicia “Snoop” Pearson stands apart as the coldest. While others dispatched their rivals with a detached ruthlessness, Snoop looked like she enjoyed her murders. She thrived as a soldier and wanted everyone to know it.
Fabolous – “Mo Brooklyn, Mo Harlem, Mo Southside”
Slimes that push weight but ain't hit the gym never Like quarters got red orders Bags over bags stash house look like hoarders Avon home tell Marlo these my corners
Album: The S.O.U.L. Tape
Released: April 21, 2011
For Fabolous’ version of AZ’s ’95 classic, he tapped Vado and Lloyd Banks for an assist. Vado references one of the best scenes of the series – when Avon comes home from a prison bid, he’s shocked to see that while Stringer was busy building up a legitimate front for their drug empire, Marlo had taken over all the prime real estate in West Baltimore. Which led us to the classic Avon:
Avon Barksdale: Yeah, I ain’t no suit-wearin’ businessman like you. You know I’m just a gangsta, I suppose. And I want my corners.“Homecoming”, Season 3, Episode 6 | The Wire
Freddie Gibbs – “Fuckin’ Up the Count”
Damn, Sarah, look, close your eyes (Yeah) You working a ground stash, 20 tall pinks Two fiends come up to you and ask for two each Another one cops three (Yeah) then Bodie hands you off 10 more But some white guy rolls up in a car Waves you down and pays for the eight How many vials you got left? (15) How the fuck you able to keep the count right When you're not able to do the book problem man? Count be wrong, they’ll fuck you up
Album: Shadow of a Doubt
Released: November 20, 2015
Gibbs uses an iconic scene from The Wire – when Wallace helps his little runner with her math homework – to set off his grimy cut off Shadow of a Doubt. This scene is everything great about The Wire – it’s realistic, sad, poignant, funny, all at the same time.
Pusha T – “Pain”
It's no risk without gain It's no trust without shame It's no us without 'caine Push: my name is my name In the kitchen with a cape on, apron Trey-eight on, coulda been Trayvon But instead, I chose Avon
Album: My Name Is My Name
Released: October 7, 2013
Pusha T is obviously a huge Wire fan with an affinity for Marlo Stanfield. I mean, he named his debut album after one of Marlo’s lines, “My name is my name.” Speaking to HipHopSince1987, Pusha explained why Marlo’s words resonated with him so much.
Basically, I tried to pick a title that embodied who I am as an artist. I wanted people to understand like Pusha is everything that I really, really am. Actually, there is a line in “Pain” where I say My Name Is My Name, that line comes from Marlo Stanfield from the series The Wire. It was one of the more prominent catch phrases that he said at the end of that series. He was basically saying, I am who I am, I stand on my name I live this. I really felt that embodied my presence in the rap game.Pusha T talks “My Name Is My Name” Album, Production Credits and More with HHS1987 (Video) | Vimeo