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Meaning of the song ‘If You Know You Know’ by ‘Pusha T’

Released: 2018

“If You Know You Know” by Pusha T is an unapologetic anthem that dives deep into the nuances of the drug game and the street hustle, carefully intertwined with the realities of making it big in the hip-hop world. Pusha T seamlessly blends his past experiences with his current success, offering a gritty yet triumphant narrative that only those with similar experiences can fully grasp. It’s a nod to those who’ve walked the walk, drenched in references that might fly over the head of the average listener but hit home for those in the know.

Opening with the imagery of “Pullin’ up in that new toy,” Pusha T immediately sets the scene of luxury born from hustling, comparing his success and style to the legendary rock band Pink Floyd—synonymous with greatness and an avant-garde lifestyle. He throws in a reference to De La Soul’s Trugoy, flipping it to talk about escaping the grips of the law and outmaneuvering those who doubted him. This introductory verse is a braggadocious display of overcoming obstacles and asserting dominance in both the street and music game, making clear distinctions between himself and those who haven’t faced the same trials or reaped the same rewards.

Moving deeper, Pusha references the fraternity of drug dealers and the unique bond they share, hinting at his own past connections and how they’ve shaped his outlook. “A fraternity of drug dealers ringin’ off” not only acknowledges the complex camaraderie among those in the drug trade but also underlines Pusha T’s transition from the illegal hustle to the music business, suggesting that while the arenas have changed, the mentality remains. He takes a jab at those who can’t switch lanes from the streets to the studio as seamlessly as he did, or morph into moguls like Diddy.

Pusha further explores the dichotomy of his journey through the metaphor of sports and merchandising, using “Bricklayers in ball shorts” to depict drug dealers as athletes of the streets, playing a game with high stakes. The tennis balls and carports aren’t just random objects; they’re coded language for the dealings in the drug trade, hidden compartments, and the constant vigilance required to evade law enforcement. It’s a complex illustration of the hustle and the lengths to which individuals go to secure their livelihoods, with Pusha standing as a testament to navigating these worlds successfully.

One standout theme is Pusha T’s pride in his ability to foresee trends and influence the scene, just like predicting “snow” in the drug game or leading the charge in how modern rappers present themselves—blurring the lines between trapper and rapper. He even brings up the legendary Big Meech to underline his long-standing position in a world where street cred and rap prestige intersect, signaling his earned stripes in both domains.

The hook, “If you know, you know,” serves as a recurring mantra throughout the song, emphasizing the exclusivity of Pusha T’s narratives. It’s a declaration that the depth of his lyrics and the achievements he references are fully appreciated only by those with similar backgrounds or understanding, creating a sense of solidarity while also challenging listeners to delve deeper into the complex layers of his storytelling.

In essence, “If You Know You Know” by Pusha T is not just a track; it’s a rich tapestry of street wisdom, triumph over adversity, and the blurred lines between legal and illegal paths to success. It encapsulates the essence of hip-hop’s storytelling prowess, where the lines of the personal and the public, the illicit and the celebrated, are intricately woven together to present a narrative that demands respect, understanding, and, most importantly, recognition of the journey it takes to truly know.

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