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Meaning of ‘It’s So Hard’ by ‘Big Pun’ feat. Donnell Jones

Released: 2000

Features: Donnell Jones

“It’s So Hard” by Big Pun, featuring Donnell Jones, stands as a defiant testament to Big Pun’s resilience in the face of the cutthroat hip-hop game and his struggles with the trappings of fame. The song articulates Pun’s confrontational stance towards his detractors, his commitment to his individualistic hustle, and his aspirations of claiming a solidified legacy in the rap scene.

The opening lines depict Pun cruising treacherous city streets in his cherry red car, a symbol of his status and success. He’s “poppin’ bottles up in Sue’s Rendezvous,” a legendary strip club in NYC, underscoring his lavish lifestyle. This scene of hedonism abruptly ends when he loses a hubcap, implying that no high can last forever in Pun’s world.

The next few lines return to Pun’s rough reality: “Straight from Paris, checkin Gaby’s new baby carriage”. He’s back from a glamorous escapade, back to his responsibilities as a family man. Yet, he’s constantly on edge and ready for potentially violent encounters: “got the Tec for the squealers/ Wear a vest for the killers”.

“I’mma go for dolo; Scarface without Manolo” – Pun asserts his willingness to roll solo, to survive independently, referencing Tony Montana’s tragic story in Scarface. His repeated chorus, “Niggas wanna be like Pun, but they don’t bust they guns”, emphasizes his unique valor and bravado, the contrast between the wannabes and his own hardened persona.

In the next verse, Pun is exulting in his success and fame, recounting experiences in Miami, hinting at the close call he had with winning a Grammy. He’s fed up with pretenders who claim to know him from back in the day, a common occurrence when artists acquire fame.

The final verse offers a more vulnerable view. “You ain’t fucking my wife, takin’ my life” – Pun confronts people who covet his wife or want him dead, showcasing the paranoia that can accompany fame. The song ends with shout-outs to his fellow Puerto Ricans (Boricuas), acknowledging his roots, his loyalty, and his shared struggle.

The essence of “It’s So Hard” lies in its intricate blend of bravado, confrontation, vulnerability, and resilience, painted over a vivid backdrop of the glitz, danger, and trepidity of urban life and hip-hop fame. Big Pun uses clever wordplay and striking imagery to craft a rap anthem that resonates with every listener who understands the struggle, the hustle, and the aspiration to rise above it all.

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