Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stories being told in Music

The tradition of telling stories in songs is apparently making its way down to generations of hip hop artists with rappers like skills and his year “Rap Up” series (Rap up series youtube page.) and Lupe Fiasco who tells stories in most of his songs. This tradition has also seemed to make its way into the television industry like in the show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The theme song for the show starts off with Will Smith’s line “Now this is a story all about how…” which is a clear indication of storytelling. As the song continues a plot develops with the climax being ‘the couple of guys, that were up to now good, making trouble in the neighborhood’, the turning point being Will moving to his Aunt and Uncle house in Bel-air, concluding  with him ‘sitting on his thrown as the prince of Bel-air’.

We usually come across storytelling in music when we listen to songs with significant messages in them. For instance, the song “Pain in my Life” by Saigon ft. Trey Songz, is a mesh up of different stories that all tied together by the common theme of pain and struggle. Another example of this is the song “I Can” by Nas, which is him telling a children’s story to encourage kids to grow up and make a difference in the world. 

Side Note: As a follow up on what we did in Class on Thursday, I thought it would be interesting to share another story styled song by Slick Rick called children story. In this song Slick Rick took a different approach. He wasn’t bragging about his outrageous day to day life but instead his message was more serious. He spoke about a boy who decided to make some quick cash by robbing people, until he gets shot by the cops.


  1. I forgot to post the links so here's the links to Slick Rick's Children Story Song and Lyrics:

    Lupe Fiasco
    kick push-

  2. Hey, really interesting topic. The evolution of story telling is a really interesting field to research. From tribal (oral) storytelling to rapping in the Bronx, the artistic technique of telling stories has come a long way. Today, the stories that used to form the structure of raps have somewhat disintegrated. When I hear a top 40 song on the radio, I realize how different rap has become and in what direction it's headed. I'd love to say that I have faith in the ability of mainstream artists to produce truly artistic tracks, but the fact of the matter is that a heavy base and good production yields sales. Artists can sacrifice talent as long as they have a distinctive style and great producers. In that respect, why is it important to tell stories anymore?

  3. I agree that today in hip-hop it seems like a strong bass and a good rhythm are more important than the lyrics and content of a song. People seem to want a beat that they can dance to rather than a song with a captivating story being told. Although I also enjoy a good beat in a hip-hop song, I wish that story-telling was more popular in rap today. I think that story-telling can be extremely entertaining, and it can often be used to deliver important messages. People have been telling stories for generations and generations, and I think that hip-hop is a great way to preserve this story-telling tradition.


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