Nathan S. 's avatar

Who’s the Best Storytelling Rapper of All-Time?

Posted by Nathan S. on 04/17/13 | Filed under Top Stories, Opinion, Debates, RH Nation Answers
I hate to do this Jeopardy style, but as you can probably already tell from the picture above, my personal answer is Ghostface Killah. Now let's go in reverse and get to the question: "Who's the Best Storytelling Rapper of All-Time?"

First things first, the ground rules. I don't think I have to explain what a storytelling rap is, but I do feel the need to point out that more people are storytelling rappers than you might think. For example, Drake pretty consistently busts out his storytelling raps - see "Marvin's Room" - the problem is that he tells the exact same story every time. It's always about him, and it's always about being emotionally conflicted, and the stories never go anywhere.

By contrast, a great storytelling rapper doesn't just narrate their autobiography. They're able to adopt other people's perspectives, or place themselves in other people's shoes. And their stories have movement - just like a great movie, their rhymes have a narrative arc that builds.

Let's get to some specifics. Historically, Slick Rick has to be in this conversation. All things told, "Children's Story" has to be the most famous storytelling rap of all-time. Nas is obviously in this discussion as well. He broke through with a classic storytelling rap ("NY State of Mind") and continues to drop gems ("Triple Beam Dreams"). I'm sure Biggie and Pac are going to be brought up, "Brenda's Got a Baby" is a storytelling classic, and more recently Kendrick's "Sing About Me" is an absolutely incredible example.

So why am I going with Ghostface? First, because he's got so many dope stories in his catalog he's hard to touch on volume alone; the man literally just dropped an album that might as well be a screenplay. More specifically, the level of narrative detail he drops is insane. He begins "Guest House" by describing the drapes in his house, and "Walk Around"' opens with the interior of corner store. But for me, the best example of his storytelling ability is "Shakey Dog". I'll let Ghost's rhymes speak for themselves:

Allright RefinedHype Nation, I'm interested to see who you're going to come up with. Let's get busy in the comments below, have at it....

p.s.: On the flipside, Rick Ross has to be one of the worst storytelling rappers of all-time. I don't think that man's ever put together even a verse that tells a coherent story, let alone an entire song (or god forbid an album).

p.s. 2: Thinking it over, Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" has to be one of the earliest examples of a true storytelling rap ever recorded.

RefinedHype has merged with The DJBooth. It's the same articles you loved on RefinedHype, new address. For more info, check out the official announcement.

blog comments powered by Disqus

RefinedHype on Twitter