Introduction: You can’t be a great rapper if you don’t have the ability to tell a story within rap song. All great Emcees in the realm of Hip-hop have that natural gift to paint a picture and tell a story by only using words to great effect. Storytelling rap songs are the best type of rap songs due to how the rapper allows or rather lets the listener listen and experience what the rapper has gone through or is going through. This list compiles in our opinion on what 808sandblues think are the Top 10 Storytelling Hip-Hop/Rap Songs of all time.

10

Immortal Technique – Dance With The Devil 

Artist: Immortal Technique

Album: Revolutionary Vol. 1

Song: Dance With The Devil

Producer: 44 Caliber

Samples: Think (About It)” by Lyn Collins, “Survival of the Fittest” by Mobb Deep, and “(Where Do I Begin?) Love Story” by Francis Lai.

Any list without Immortal Technique’s Dance With The Devil track is immediately void. This fucked up track should always be in this discussion when it comes to lists like these. It is arguably one of the most messed up tracks in the history of Hip-Hop, backed by a melodic piano sample and later on hard hitting drums, this song is haunting, bleak, dark and downright depressing. It tells the story of a young kid who desperately wants to join a gang and he is forced to prove himself. The following events happen, unprovoked violence, theft, drug abuse, peer pressure, grief, gang rape, guns, suicide, murder and an Oldboy (2003) movie twist (if you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about). Immortal Technique paints a powerful picture as he flows effortlessly throughout the song, but the message is clear don’t be tempted by the devil and no matter what the devil offers you or wants you to do, have the will to reject him and trust in the Lord. Clocking in at nearly 10 minutes, this is cinematic hip hop at its finest.

Quotable lyrics: 

Everyone tryin’ to be trife never face the consequences
You probably only did a month for minor offenses
Ask a nigga doin’ life if he had another chance
But then again there’s always the wicked that knew in advance
Dance forever with the Devil on a cold cell block
But that’s what happens when you rape, murder, and sell rock
Devils used to be God’s angels that fell from the top
There’s no diversity, because we’re burning in the melting pot

9

Ice Cube – It Was A Good Day 

Artist: Ice Cube

Album: The Predator

Song: It Was A Good Day

Producer: DJ Pooh 

Sample: Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps in the Dark”

The most chill rap song of all time? absolutely. Ice Cube’s It Was A Good Day is classic till the end of time. Wanna smoke a blunt? Make sure you smoke it to this track. Wanna fuck a girl and cant figure out what track to play while you get it on? motherfucker play this track. Wanna get drunk? Bruh, just play this shit. Got a house party coming up at your place and you in live in California and you can’t figure out what song to play first? Man, just hit play on this jam. For years no one actually knew what Cube was talking about until recently in 2012 Cube stated in an interview that “It’s a fictional song, It’s basically my interpretation of what a great day would be. Do you know what I’m saying? So, you know, it’s a little of this and a little of that. I don’t think you can pinpoint the day.” In It Was a Good Day, Cube talks about his future wife having the ability to fuck all night, none of his friends getting killed and getting paid. Shit, these events happened to me too I’d definitely consider it a good day.

Quotable Lyrics: 

Drove to the pad and hit the showers
Didn’t even get no static from the cowards
‘Cause just yesterday them fools tried to blast me
Saw the police and they rolled right past me
No flexin’, didn’t even look in a nigga’s direction
As I ran the intersection
Went to Short Dog’s house, they was watching Yo! MTV Raps
What’s the haps on the craps?
Shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em
Roll ’em in a circle of niggas
And watch me break ’em with the 7, 7-11, 7-11
7, even back door Lil Joe
I picked up the cash flow
Then we played bones, and I’m yelling, “Domino!”
Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central L.A
Today was a good day

8

Lupe Fiasco – The Cool

Artist: Lupe Fiasco

Album: Food & Liquor

Song:  The Cool

Producer: Kanye West

Sample: Dexter Wansel – Life on Mars

The most incredible beat Kanye has ever produced for another artist? possibly. One of Lupe’s best lyrical performances? no doubt. The Cool tells the story of a hustler who is shot to death but miraculously comes back to life. He lives through crime and the gangster life style until it all catches up with him, think Scarface but just more grim. This is a track where you really have to immerse yourself into the song to understand what Lupe is rapping about because the beat by Kanye West steals the show here. It’s not the type of beat Kanye West at the time was known for but it ranks up there as one of his best.

Quotable lyrics: 

This life goes passing you by
It might go fast if you lie
You born, you lived, and you die
If life goes passing you by
Don’t cry
If you’re breaking the rules
Making your moves
Paying your dues
Chasing the cool

7

Snoop Dogg – Murder Was The Case

Artist: Snoop Dogg

Album: Doggystyle

Song:  Murder Was The Case

Producer: Dr. Dre

Sample: Santana – Fried Neckbones

Think back to the mid 2000s, when the Illuminati rumours gained full steam. Many rap artists were named as being in some sort of secret society that deal with demons and demonic spirits. One name what kept frequently popping up was Snoop Dogg and this was fuelled due to a song of his called Murder Was The Case which he released in the 1990s. I remember when I was a kid and just not understanding what Snoop was talking about on here. I was just mesmerised by the G-Funk beat after I discovered The Chronic by Dr Dre. Later I revisited this classic when I was much older and mature and came to find out that Snoop was basically rapping about dying and then being resurrected from the dead after he makes a deal with the devil. However Snoop explains in the video below that it wasn’t the case of him making a deal with the devil, but was about a gangsta who was saved by God and instead of doing the right thing, the gangsta does the wrong thing and pays for it. Do not sell your soul and integrity to the devil guys.

Quotable lyrics:

As I look up at the sky
My mind starts tripping
A tear drops my eye
My body temperature falls
I’m shaking and they breaking trying to save the Dogg

Pumping on my chest and I’m screaming
I stop breathing, damn I see demons
Dear God, I wonder can you save me
I can’t die my boo boo’s bout to have my baby
I think it’s too late for praying, hold up
A voice spoke to me and it slowly started saying
(Bring your lifestyle to me, I’ll make it better)

How long will I live?
(Eternal life and forever)
And will I be the G that I was?
(I’ll make your life better than you can imagine or even dreamed of
So relax your soul, let me take control
Close your eyes my son)
My eyes are closed

6

Outkast – Da Art of Story Tellin

Artist: Outkast

Album: Aquemini

Song:  Da Art of Storytellin

Producer: Mr.DJ

Sample: Not/Applicable

If I hear one of you fake ass ignorant rap fans who only started listening to rap in 2012 and who keep saying Outkast stole this beat from J Coles – Land of The Snakes, I’ll literally slap y’all silly. Just kidding, but seriously stop with that dumb shit. This song is the only song on this list without a sample. Mr. DJ created a slow catchy beat that has not aged a single bit and would effortlessly fit into any Hip-Hop era. Both Big Boy and Andre 3000 are incredible over this beat but as much as we respect and acknowledge 3 stacks as one of the best ever, Big Boy steals the show here with his catchy lyrics and impeccable flow.  Big Boi raps about leaving mother of his child to have sex with a chick called Suzy Screw a prostitute. Andre 3000 raps about growing up with a friend of Suzy named Sasha who he met at a slumber party and they talk about what they want to be when they grow up. Later both part ways,  Andre 3000 finds out that she overdosed on drugs two months into a pregnancy in the back of a school.

Quotable lyrics: 

It’s like that now, you better go on and get the hump up out your back now
It’s about four or five cats off in my ‘Llac now
We just shoot game in the form of story rap now
It’s like that now, it’s like that now

5

Kendrick Lamar – How Much a Dollar Cost 

Artist: Kendrick Lamar

Album: To Pimp a Butterfly

Song:  How Much a Dollar Cost

Producer: LoveDragon

Sample: Esbjörn Svensson Trio – Serenade for the Renegade

The first out of two Kendrick Lamar storytelling rap songs that make the list. How Much a Dollar Cost is not just a rap song but its an experience that we’ve all gone through before. We’ve all walked passed an homeless person asking for small change, but refused to give that person anything due to our greed and selfishness. How Much of a Dollar Cost is about that. Kendrick tells the story of when he runs into a homeless man at a gas station in South Africa, who asks Kendrick for 10 Rand but Kendrick refuses to give him nothing, suspecting the homeless man of being a crack addict. Kendrick later finds out that the homeless man is actually God and that he was testing Kendrick. Kendrick fails the test and loses his spot in heaven. This is a powerful track and teaches us all a lesson. The piano loop in the beat just makes the track even more stunning.

Quotable lyrics:

He’s starin’ at me in disbelief
My temper is buildin’, he’s starin’ at me, I grab my key
He’s starin’ at me, I started the car, then I tried to leave
And somethin’ told me to keep it in park until I could see
The reason why he was mad at a stranger
Like I was supposed to save him
Like I’m the reason he’s homeless and askin’ me for a favor
He’s starin’ at me, his eyes followed me with no laser
He’s starin’ at me, I notice that his stare is contagious
‘Cause now I’m starin’ back at him, feelin’ some type of disrespect
If I could throw a bat at him, it’d be aimin’ at his neck
I never understood someone beggin’ for goods
Askin’ for handouts, takin’ it if they could
And this particular person just had it down pat
Starin’ at me for the longest until he finally asked
“Have you ever opened up Exodus 14?
A humble man is all that we ever need
Tell me how much a dollar cost”

4

Nas – Memory Lane 

Artist: Nas

Album: Illmatic

Song:  Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park)

Producer: DJ Premier

Sample: Reuben Wilson – We’re in Love

The greatest rapper of all time was always going to make this list. Nas has so many classic storytelling rap songs that it was nearly impossible to pick one. However Memory Lane stands out valiantly from the crowd. The oohhh ohhhhhh in the background of the beat is astonishingly beautiful, melancholic and makes the song. Despite how incredible the beat is it doesn’t take anything away from Nas’s superb lyrical performance. Nas rides the beat very well as he tells the story of him dropping out of school, reminisces about his gangbanging days and all the events that took place at the area he grew up in, Queensbridge. Nas should be proud of the man he is today, the GOAT and a successful business man.

Quotable lyrics: 

I rap for listeners, bluntheads, fly ladies, and prisoners
Henessey-holders and old-school niggas

Then I be dissing a unofficial that smoke Woolie Thai
I dropped out of Cooley High
Gassed up by a cokehead cutie pie

Jungle survivor, fuck who’s the live-er
My man put the battery in my back
A difference from Energizer

Sentence begins indented with formality
My duration’s infinite, moneywise or physiology
Poetry, that’s a part of me, retardedly bop
I drop the ancient manifested hip-hop straight off the block

I reminisce on park jams
My man was shot for his sheep coat
Chocolate incense make me see him drop in my weed smoke

It’s real, grew up in trife life, did times or white lines
The hype pipes, murderous nighttimes
And knife fights and blight crimes

Chill on the block with Cognac, hold strap
With my peeps that’s into drug money market into rap

No sign of the beast in the blue Chrysler
I guess that means peace

3

Eminem – Stan

Artist:  Eminem

Album: The Marshall Mathers LP

Song:  Stan

Producer: The 45 King

Sample: Dido – Thank you

Eminem’s greatest song shows us how much of a talented writer he is. You ever go on these online rap blogs/forums/comment sections and people keep saying, Drake stans, Kendrick Stans etc, well the word stan comes from this legendary song. Stan is as influential as any other great hip hop track. This track excellently samples a Dido Hook from the song Thank You and adds a raw bassline. Stan tells the story of an obsessed fan who becomes even more obsessed as the song drags on. Stanley, oh wait Stan as he hates being called Stanley at the end of the track kills himself, his girlfriend and their unborn child because Eminem couldn’t write back to his letters. Stan was such an influential song that the term is now recognised in the Oxford Dictionary.

Quotable lyrics:

Dear Stan, I meant to write you sooner, but I just been busy
You said your girlfriend’s pregnant now—how far along is she?
Look, I’m really flattered you would call your daughter that
And here’s an autograph
For your brother, I wrote it on a Starter cap
I’m sorry I didn’t see you at the show, I must’ve missed you
Don’t think I did that shit intentionally just to diss you
But what’s this shit you said about you like to cut your wrists too? I say that shit just clownin’
Dawg, come on, how fucked up is you?
You got some issues, Stan, I think you need some counselin’
To help your ass from bouncin’
Off the walls when you get down some
And what’s this shit about us meant to be together?
That type of shit’ll make me not want us to meet each other
I really think you and your girlfriend need each other
Or maybe you just need to treat her better

2

Kendrick Lamar – Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst

Artist:  Kendrick Lamar

Album: Good Kid Maad City

Song:  Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirt

Producers: Like, Skhye Hutch and Sounwave

Sample: Bill Withers – Use Me and Grant Green – Maybe Tomorrow

Hip-hops rightfully self-proclaimed saviour appears on the second time on this list. Kendrick Lamar before the age of 30 has dropped so many classic songs that he is set to become one of the greatest rappers of all time or quite simply the number one greatest rapper of all time. Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst is the centrepiece of his second classic album. The first verse, Kendrick raps in the perspective of Dave’s brother after Dave’s death. Dave’s brother argues that Kendrick is at fault as they were retaliating based on an incident that happened to Kendrick.  But he appreciates Kendrick for being there for Dave and holding him in his arms when he was dying.

The second verse, is from the perspective of Keisha’s sister, a woman who was mentioned in Section.80. Keisha is now a prostitute after years of being molested and she is now dead.  Keisha’s sister condemns Kendrick for putting Keisha on blast, without knowing her that well.  She now follows her sisters path of prostitution in order to survive.

The third verse, is from Kendricks own perspective as he raps about his infatuation with death. Kendrick also reflects on the previous verses and ends his verse by asking his listeners if he has put enough work into his music to be worth singing about. This song is not for the weak-willed and faint hearted as once you immerse yourself into the song tears will fall. And yes Kendrick, you are worth it.

Quotable lyrics: 

Sometimes I look in a mirror and ask myself:
Am I really scared of passing away? If it’s today, I hope I hear a
Cry out from heaven so loud it can water down a demon

With the holy ghost ’til it drown in the blood of Jesus
I wrote some raps that make sure that my lifeline
Reeking the scent of a reaper, ensuring that my allegiance
With the other side may come soon, and if I’m doomed
May the womb help my mother be blessed for many moons
I suffer a lot, and every day the glass mirror
Get tougher to watch; I tie my stomach in knots
And I’m not sure why I’m infatuated with death
My imagination is surely an aggravation of threats

That can come about, ’cause the tongue is mighty powerful
And I can name a list of your favorites that probably vouch

Maybe ’cause I’m a dreamer and sleep is the cousin of death
Really stuck in the schema of wondering when I’mma rest
And you’re right, your brother was a brother to me
And your sister’s situation was the one that pulled me
In a direction to speak of something that’s realer than the TV screen

1

The Notorious B.I.G. – I Got a Story to Tell

Artist:  The Notorious B.I.G.

Album: Life after Death

Song:  I Got a Story To Tell

Producers: Buckwild, Chucky Thompson and Sean Combs

Sample: Al Green – I’m Glad You’re Mine

Who else did you think number one spot was going to?  After all the classic tracks we went through it is only right that the number one spot absolutely deserves to go to Biggies iconic classic song I Got a Story to Tell. One of most brutal rap record to date, Biggie tells the story of a New York Knicks player possibly Anthony Mason if we want to go by Fat Joe’s statement. Biggie details a sexual encounter he supposedly had with a woman who was romantically linked to a player on the Knicks team. Biggie raps about Mason coming back home early to find him in his bed with his girlfriend. Naturally, the late rapper pulled out a gun on him to avoid any further conflict — but not before he also grabbed a thousand dollars from the NBA player. The songs ends with Biggie gathering his homies and telling them the story while they clown Anthony Davis. The menacing guitar in the background just makes the track even more legendary.

Quotable lyrics: 

We fucked in his bed, quite dangerous
I’m in his ass while he playin’ ‘gainst the Utah Jazz
My 112, CD blast, I was past
She came twice I came last, roll the grass
She giggle, sayin’ “I’m smokin’ on home-grown”
Then I heard the moan, “honey I’m home!”
Yep, tote chrome for situations like this
I’m up in his broad I know he won’t like this
Now I’m like, “Bitch, you better talk to him
Before this fifth put a spark to him
Fuck around shit get dark to him, put a part through him
Lose a major part to him, arm, leg.”
She beggin me to stop but this cat gettin closer
Gettin hot like a toaster, I cocks the toast, uhh
Before my eyes could blink
She screams out, “Honey bring me up somethin to drink!”
He go back downstairs more time to think
Her brain racin, she’s tellin me to stay patient
She don’t know I’m, cool as a fan
Gat in hand, I don’t wanna blast her man
But I can and I will though, I probably chill though
Even though situation lookin’ kinda ill yo

Conclusion: Thank for reading. Do you agree with our list? tell us what you think and write your own list in the comment section below.

 

 

5 Comments »

  1. Nice list but Nas’s Undying Love should replace Memory Lane and you’ve got Eminem on here but NO love for Common’s I Used To Love H.E.R?

  2. Just a Friendly Game of Baseball-Large Professor (Nas mentor in rap game!!) is dope storytelling
    Any Ghostface Killah record (Crack Spot Stories SMH!!)

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