Streets Is Watching

Streets Is Watching

JAY-Z

“Streets Is Watching” is a track on JAY-Z’s 1997 sophomore album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 and is the title track of the soundtrack to his 1998 movie Streets Is Watching.

One similarity between rap stars and drug kingpins is that everybody is always keeping an eye on them. Jay-Z struggles with being both, and a theme that runs heavily through this song is how frustrated he is at not being able to kill his enemies on the street because of his fame.

Producer Ski Beatz provided some background information about the track in an interview with Complex:

Jay couldn’t come up with a hook. That’s why he took the sample from the guy from Sleepers and threw it in there. He was like, ‘This is dope but I don’t know what kind of hook to add to it.’ That movie was good but it was Jay’s idea to use it. He’s definitely a movie buff, anything that had that energy of what he was representing.

British musician Labi Siffre’s 1975 song “I Got The” is sampled throughout the track, however Siffre wouldn’t clear the sample without the promise of censorship. As a result, the official versions of the song are censored – even on the explicit version, something producer Ski Beatz said he “never even noticed.” However, some uncensored edits can be found.

“Streets is Watching” was the only track from In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 that Jay was able to show Biggie and get feedback on, just before his friend’s untimely passing in March 1997:

The first song I made for it was ‘Streets Is Watching,’ which was the last song that Biggie Smalls ever heard. He made me play the record 30 times. We played it so much I just gave it him. I was like, ‘Just keep it!'