The ten best storytellers in hip-hop

Categories: Lists

2. Nas
Like the other East Coast rappers that grace this list, Nas has the uncommon ability to place images in his listener's mind, like in "NY State of Mind," when his gun fails to fire, it's like you can see the jammed gun in your own hand. What sets Nas apart from even the best storytellers is his creativity in creating unusual conceits like "Rewind," where he tells a story in reverse, or "I Gave You Power," where he speaks from the perspective of the gun, ascribing human qualities to it that are surprisingly powerful and resonant.

1. Slick Rick
If Rakim is godfather of the modern flow, Slick Rick is the godfather of the modern story rap. Although by now, there are rappers who can arguably tell a story better than Rick, nobody does it with the charismatic flair that Rick does, and nobody creates entertaining dialogue like he does. His debut album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, introduced mainstream hip-hop to long-form storytelling. The album boasts a variety of tales from Rick escaping kidnap to make it to a show to a brief encounter with a fine woman at a pizza shop to a cautionary tale about robbery framed as a bedtime "Children's Story" that has been imitated countless times both in name and in theme.




My Voice Nation Help
26 comments
truth
truth

Agreed! Finally a writer in Westword that really knows Hip-Hop!! about damn time...

Colfax Jack
Colfax Jack

The Rhymesayers record label is full of great storytellers. Atmosphere's album "When Life Gives You Lemons..." is a great example of storytelling in hip-hop. But one of my favorite lines is from Brother Ali: "I write the raps for the ones Johnny Cash wore the black for."

David Avius Romero
David Avius Romero

Slick Rick, Brother Ali, Slug, Pac, B.I.G., Nas, Eminem, Jay Z, Black Thought, Will Smith. Runner UP: Masta Ace and

Andy Thomas
Andy Thomas

Snow. I never snitched again after hearing "Informer."

Jacob Ryan
Jacob Ryan

Kendrick, J.Cole. At least for today

Rob Ruby
Rob Ruby

Fuck this list. Guru all the way. RIP

Lynette Vigil
Lynette Vigil

Jay Z is HORRIBLE!!! He doesn't deserve to be on the list he cares more about getting rich, then he does about the craft of story telling

Tylr Tre
Tylr Tre

Hov ain't even on the list? ? Gtfoh.

Tylr Tre
Tylr Tre

Jay Z. No question about it.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Denver Event Tickets
Loading...