Released: 1995

Features: Ghostface Killah, Nas

“Verbal Intercourse” brings together a trio of hip-hop heavyweights – Ghostface Killah, Nas, and Raekwon – to deliver a hard-hitting narrative about surviving in the gritty, crime-ridden environments they come from. The track is laced with complex metaphors, cultural references, and insider slang, painting a vivid picture of their lived experiences, while examining the systemic injustice prevalent in their communities.

The song kicks off with Raekwon shouting out to his fellow artists – Tony Starks (Ghostface’s alter ego) and Lex Diamonds (Raekwon’s other alias). He sets the tone for what’s to come, suggesting that the track is heavy with wisdom and knowledge, comparing their rhymes to prophesy. Their aim? To show the many misguided artists in hip hop (the “crabs”) how real rhyming is done.

Nas takes over the first verse, using religious and criminal motifs to describe his rise to fame despite societal constraints. The “beast” here symbolizes the system, which he suggests will continue to oppress. His son being “imprisoned” is a metaphor reflecting the trap of poverty or prejudiced law enforcement that impacts black Americans. He speaks of a cycle of crime, referencing the notorious Riker’s Isle prison, suggesting that many end up repeating the same mistakes due to lack of opportunities.

Raekwon Verbal Intercourse (feat. Ghostface Killah & Nas)

In the second verse, Raekwon dissects the harsh reality of street life. His reference to “bullets bust” speaks to rampant gun violence, while “Pyrex pots” and “fiends lickin’ plates” dive into the drug culture. His line about “cops… invested in” brings to light the corruption within the police force. He also touches on the overpriced sneakers (“flashy kicks”) and status symbol cars (“Lexuses GS”), painting a picture of hood extravagance, even amid struggle.

Ghostface Killah closes with a verse that captures the tribulations of serving time. “Cigarette niggas be swindlin'” is a nod to tobacco being a valuable currency within prison walls. He also details the ruthlessness of prison violence, where inmates use makeshift weapons like “sharpen toothbrushes.” Ghostface then brings it full circle by referencing the success he, Nas, and Raekwon have garnered, despite all odds.

“Verbal Intercourse” is an unabashed look at the hardships and systemic failures faced by many in ghettos every day. It’s a testament to the transformative power of hip-hop – how lyrics and beats turn grim reality into potent and impactful narratives. It’s real talk, vividly painted with a hip-hop brush.