Storytelling songs are not new to hip hop, They have been around for decades.
Storytelling in rap is not an easy task, rap’s rhyming format is usually sets
of 4 bars, Sometimes 2, And if you’re incredible, Even 8.
Rap naturally expects an immediate subtle transitioning in Focus area, Flow, Lyrical content or scenario according to the above mentioned format, dwelling too much on a scenario will exhaust its resources so the sooner the transition the better the song.
That said, There are a few exceptions in which an artist is allowed to stretch a scenario
and delay its conclusion. For some artists, Dwelling on a scenario or focus area for
longer than 16 bars can be an exhausting task, One that might lead to a rapper running out of ideas sooner or the story told reached a quick ending or conclusion.
And then there are those rappers whose song concept is so interesting, Detailed,
Scenario-filled to a point that it can even take an entire song to conclude, That’s
48 bars or more.
Let’s get to my top 5 list of best storytelling rap songs of all time.
5. Runaway love – Ludacris
Runaway love is a powerful song by ludacris. The song details the hardships faced by
there different woman, With every every verse focusing on different issues.
Verse one deals with a young girl who is neglected by her drunkard mother who’s all about the life of party.
verse two deals with a little girl who lives with an alcoholic stepdad who is abusive.
verse three deals with with a troubled girl who falls pregnant and finds herself ditched
by her boyfriend.
All these girls have one thing in common, They all need to escape and running away seems to be the only choice for all three of them.
This song made my list because of of luda’s marvelous skill in being able to say so much in just a few bars. The last four bars of each verse comprises of the same rhymes and the first two bars of each verse comprises of the same rhymes too, Meaning luda actually had ten bars to tell a full story, That’s incredible and something only B.I.G can pull off.
No 4. Rewind – Nas
Rewind is a great concept, The song is about a murder that is committed, But with a twist, The story starts at the end and ends at the beginning when nas gets a call informing him about the whereabouts of his enemy.
What i like about this song is the fact that the concept was executed perfectly, Yes
it’s not easy to follow The first time you hear it, but when you get used to it, You’ll
appreciate the effort put in this song.
The production though is not great, once you’re done appreciating the idea, There’s
really not much to motivate you to keep listening to the song.
No 3. Nontsundu – Abantu
The song is about a man who in 2010, decided to visit the house of an old friend, Only to be shocked and broken by what he saw. The entire song is a flashback of nontsundu’s glory days and an explanation for her being in that condition.
The song was written some time before the year 2010 and near the end of the song a
question is asked, “Who is nontsundu?” and the answer was “I’m talking about things that happened in the year 2010, Maybe nontsundu could be you”. A great song about social ills, Teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
No 2. Gimme the loot – The notorious B.I.G
Gimme the loot is a song about two homies contemplating and planning a robbery. What makes this song great is the fact that, Instead of listening to a story, You are
actually watching a movie, You can see every detail, Biggie paints the picture so vivid
You’re not missing a moment.
All the songs listed above are like a book, This one is like a movie script and the
dialogue is amazing. Biggie is a lyrical genius and the best storyteller in hip hop ever.
No 1. Stan – Eminem
It’s no surprise that this song made the list, It is a masterpiece, Perfectly written,
The production is hella and matches every word, I love how eminem was able to accurately portray the swigs in stan’s mood, Tone, and dynamic range. You literally see him gradually go from mild to stressed to obsessed and finally, berserk and insane. Stan for me takes the crown, A shout out to all the rappers putting in the work to give us great content, You’re appreciated.
I know what you’re thinking, Where is immortal technique’s dance with devil? Well, That’s a dope song and written very well, I love the content but i find it so unbelievable, I don’t see a chance of that ever happening. If i was immortal technique, I would have have probably changed the area the crime is committed and the way it was committed. I don’t see how he could have been there the entire time, Remember this is a movie, A lyrical, Not a visual one, But a movie nonetheless, We imagine every detail and we don’t believe it at all.