Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tuesday's Top Ten: Hip-Hop Storytelling Songs Ever

Today's Top Ten visits the Top Ten Stories I've ever heard in rap from the pens of some of the most talented emcees ever. The list really took me a while to comprise and a lot of thought and personal preference went into it which is why it's coming so late instead of the normal Tuesday deliverance. In any event, to give clue as to why I picked these songs, I'm including a verse or passage from each selection as a testament to the quality of story telling and artistry of each entry as well as the download option for each song so that you may listen to the tracks in their entirety on your own and come to your own conclusions.

That said, let's get down to it.

10.) Nas - Fetus (Got to be on the list based off Nas remembering his own time in the womb, his mindset therein and in the immediate moments after leaving it. This Nas fellow is a a bad motherfucker.)
I wondered if I am born will I be safe at all
This place they call the world though my view was so large
Couldn't wait to get up, grow up and take charge
Month 5, Month 6 went by, hoping I'm born in July
But the Lord already figured out a date and time
Septemeber 14th, 73
Get ready world, doctors in the front waiting for me
Arms open cause they know when I drop, alot of shit's gonna stop
See how the goverment will start re-training cops
Month 9, I'm a week over due, the labor induced
Pops told my moms to push and take deep breaths too
Said stay calm, holding her arm, I'm trying to hold on
Surgical gloves touching my scalp, my head pops out
Everything blurry, my first breath screams out
Tears pouring down my pops face he's so proud
Wanted to hold me, but I was so bloody
They washed me off and he said "At least that nigga aint ugly!"
Placed me in his arms snuggly, laid me on my mother
Finally, I got to see who held me in her body
She loved me,and I plan to over through the devil
Y'all bout to see this world in trouble

Fetus by Nas
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9.) Andre 3000 - A Day In The Life Of Andre Benjamin (I love how people underrate Dre because he may not be their cup of tea all around but his talent is supremely unappreciated. In fact he may be the most under appreciated artist of all-time. No hyperbole meant either. This song is his autobiography for all intents and purposes and is amazing. I have to listen to it at least once a month. One of my favorite Outkast songs of all time. No quotes, you jest need to hear it.)

ADITLOAB by Three Stacks
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8.) Ice Cube - Today Was a Good Day (Sometimes the simplest stories are the best and while this song is less Martin Scorcese than it is Big Lebowski it still has a place in the annals of Hip-Hop lore and is a certified classic.)

Just wakin up in the mornin gotta thank God
I don't know but today seems kinda odd
No barkin from the dog, no smog
And momma cooked a breakfast with no hog (damn)
I got my grub on, but didn't pig out
Finally got a call from a girl I wanna dig out
(Whassup?) Hooked it up for later as I hit the do'
Thinkin will I live, another twenty-fo'
I gotta go cause I got me a drop top
And if I hit the switch, I can make the ass drop
Had to stop, at a red light
Lookin in my mirror and not a jacker in sight
And everything is alright
I got a beep from Kim, and she can fuck all night
Called up the homies and I'm askin y'all
Which park, are y'all playin basketball?
Get me on the court and I'm trouble
Last week fucked around and got a triple double
Freakin niggaz everyway like M.J.
I can't believe, today was a good day

TWAGD by Ice Cube
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7.) Nas - Rewind (The lines below are the would be be beginnings of a quite gripping creative story. Greatness.)
Got fully dressed and told me, "Stressed really I'm"
Picked up her Gucci bag and left a nigga behind
Walkin through the door, she rang the bell twice
I vomited Vodka back in my glass with juice and ice
The clock went back from three, to two, to one
And that's about the time the story begun
That's when I first heard the voicemail on the cell
It said, "Son we found that nigga we gotta kill"

Ay yo son, ay yo son, you hear me, you hear me?
Listen man, this dude right on the block, right now, man
I found him, right now, I see him right now!
Let's kill him)

"Yo, this Nas, leave it. Peace"

Rewind by Nas
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6.) 2Pac - 16 On Death Row (Somewhere in this song you feel less like you're listening to a song and more like you're watching an MSNBC Locked Up Documentary. Gritty but great.)
I turned to a life of crime, cause I came from a broken family
My uncle used to touch me, I never told you that
Scared what you might do, I couldn't hold you back
I kept it deep inside, I done let it fuel my anger
I'm down for all my homies, no mercy for a stranger
The brother in my cell, is 16 as well
It's hard to adapt, when you're black and you're trapped in a livin Hell
I shouldn'ta let him catch me
Instead of livin sad in jail I coulda died free and happy
And my cellmate's raped on the norm
And passed around the dorm, you can hear his asshole gettin torn
They made me an animal
Can't sleep, instead of countin sheep, niggaz countin cannibals
And that's how it is in the pen
Turn old and cold, and your soul is your best friend
My mama prayed for me
Tell the Lord to make way for me, prepare any day for me (why?)
Cause when they come for me they find a struggler
To the death I take the breath from your jugular
The trick is to never lose hope
I found my buddy hangin dead from a rope, 16 on Death Row

16 On Death Row by 2Pac
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5.) 2Pac - So Many Tears (This is a great song. A dark and troubled person whose lived a less than perfect life who ponders the next one and where he'll be exactly. Honest. Real. Genius.)
I'm suicidal, so don't stand near me
My every move is a calculated step, to bring me closer
to embrace an early death, now there's nothin left
There was no mercy on the streets, I couldn't rest
I'm barely standin, bout to go to pieces, screamin peace
And though my soul was deleted, I couldn't see it
I had my mind full of demons tryin to break free
They planted seeds and they hatched, sparkin the flame
inside my brain like a match, such a dirty game
No memories, just a misery
Paintin a picture of my enemies killin me, in my sleep
Will I survive til the mo'nin, to see the sun
Please Lord forgive me for my sins, cause here I come...

So Many Tears by 2Pac
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4.) Jay-Z - Friend Or Foe '98 (No quotes necessary here, just the music video)

FOF '98 by Jay-Z
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3.) Beanie Sigel - What Ya Life Like (Song is straight out of a season of OZ. Real frightening and first hand account of prison and all the things you don't want to encounter. This is 16 on Death Row with the volume turned up. Great story though. Very visual (fortunately or unfortunately depending on perspective.)

What you know about solitary
Locked down, no commissary
And you wild or ready
And you just seen your mom get buried
You got drowns, comin' in all kinds of flurries
What you know about your towel on your cell when you alone at night
Or a jailhouse hunger srike
Or you sittin' in your cell and just zone one night
And you think "damn, I'm neva comin' home one night"
You got 5 years in, neva been flown a kite
You hearin' grown men moan at night
They got you stuck in the can
White man got you fuckin' your hand
Your wife on land fuckin' your man
What you know about no parole
Life in the hole
Lifes cold, you be eatin' them swags
Guards on the nightshift they be beatin' you bad
The hardest nigga turned bitch, be sleepin' wit fags
What you know about gettin' and shippin' balloons
Keep switchin' positions in the visitin' room
Gotta take Ex-Lax, hope you did it in time
Gotta shit in your palm just ta get the heroin
And you talkin' 'bout your life is this, your life is that
Your life ain't shit, your life is whack
Man you listenin' ta the realest nigga
Close your eyes, muthafuckas tell me you don't feel this nigga

Beans by Beanie Sigel
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2.) Nas - I Gave You Power (Nas's first brush with perfection on record and certainly not his last. I remember this song being so much to me back then. Even more so than the actual commercial singles meant for bubble gum success. This was the song that stuck to me more so than any of the other songs on It Was Written, which to me was a classic album. This song was just a classic song amongst a classic album. I couldn't put this any lower than two.)

Always I'm in some shit, my abdomen is the clip
The barrel is my dick, uncircumcised
Pull my skin back and cock me, I bust off when they unlock me
Results of what happens to niggaz shock me
I see niggaz bleedin runnin from me in fear, stunningly tears
fall down the eyes of these so-called tough guys, for years
I've been used in robberies, givin niggaz heart to follow me
Placin peoples in graves, funerals made cause I was sprayed
I was laid in a shelf, with a grenade
Met a wrecked-up tech with numbers on his chest that say
Five-two-oh-nine-three-eight-five and zero
Had a serial defaced, hopin one day, police would place
where he came from, a name or some sort of person to claim him
Tired of murderin, made him wanna be a plain gun
But yo I had some other plans, like the next time the beef is on
I make myself jam right in my owner's hand

Nasir by Nas
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1.) Nas - Undying Love (I didn't really mean for Nas to be on the list 4 times, really I didn't. I kind of expected more diversity from a Top Ten List but he really is one of the greatest at telling stories over instrumentals of all-time. No questioning that. Nas is a lot like an Adam Dunn or Ryan Howard, he doesn't do EVERYTHING well but what he does do well he REALLY does his thing with. Nas is never going to make hits all like that or have the club going nuts over a commercial beat and appeal to the most common denominator but he's so cerebral that you can't not sit back in your room or be driving some long stretch and not appreciate his mastery for words and writing.

Anyway, this song has everything a James Patterson novel gives you and more and moreover only takes you 4 minutes for ti all to unfold. This song to me cements Nas as the greatest writer of his time. No one could write like him. Excluding nobody.)
My baby's, drop Mercedes is parked, I creep around yo
to the back, she must be inside and can't hear
Probably upstairs, in the mirror, doin her hair
I walked in through the back door entrance
Shocked it was unlocked, when I walked in, I smelled incense
chased by a weed aroma, empty Guinnesses
and lipstick marks on like three empty Coronas
A pair of blue jeans on the carpet; size 12 Timberlands
Somethin swingin on the ceilin fan, I stopped it
Swingin slower and slower..
On the last swing I saw it was a G-string and heard laughin
Thought about my nine-side Glock but somethin made me disregard it
Started my way up to where the noise and music was at
Froze, I couldn't react
Bedroom door opened a crack, seen wifey layin with some nigga
mumblin shit, he had one hand on her ass
and she was rubbin his dick, toastin wine glasses
Cherry scented candles was lit, couldn't handle the shit
Searchin for words I found none, without a sound
I left the house with a sick smile and took my gun
Now I'm out buggin, whylin, what I'm gon do?
Call my man Horse, meet me outside, I'm comin through

Nasir2 by Nas
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Honorable's Mentions:

Nas - Project Roach
Outkast f/ Slick Rick - Da Art of Storytelling Pt. 1
2Pac - Dear Mama
Nas - What Goes Around
Jay-Z - It Was All a Dream


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