“Uncle Ricky: can you tell me a bedtime story pleeease!!!”

3:34 am.My head is currently nodding in affirmation as I stare at my speakers. The lyrics were like sketch flip books: the animations ran through my imigaintion and I was engulfed…

teacher reads Easy-E lyrics to school children...
teacher reads Eazy-E lyrics to school children...

Recently, I picked up the book ” The Story Factor” by Annette Simmons. I perused the first 10 pages of the book, and took note on Simmons’ method of influence. The author say, lectures, and long winded speeches do nothing for most people, while a good story will pull most listeners to find the answers themselves, thus engaging and captivating the audience:

“We spend too much time talking to a person’s rational brain and we neglect their emotional brain…”.

It wasn’t the concept that blew my barn doors open and got me to thinking; it was the real life application.

For instance, If I tell you,  “don’t go down a dark street- it’s not safe.”, you might listen to me- but you will not be moved. But if I tell you, “about three weeks ago a kid that looks just like you was abducted on that dark street…”. I have tapped into your emotions, and now you have not only listened, but you have been moved. Even more so, I have not advised you to do anything, instead, I have given you enough information to make your own life decisions.

This is a relatively simple concept. We see it all the time in society. But the one place this concept is most readily seen in my life-isn’t seen at all:It’s heard.

Hip-hop has expanded my vocabulary, has given me rhythmic inclination ( I can dance… on beat), and now I realize, Hip-hop has given me some of the greatest examples of telling stories. Stories that influence, stories that move, stories that cause you to stare at the speaker and nod in affirmation as if the emcee was speaking to you… and these are just a few:

First off, if you know nothing about storytelling in hip-hop ,you need not go further than a man by the name of Slick Rick “the Ruler”. His long list of classic albums include hits like “Mona Lisa” and “Young World”, but the story that reigns supreme in hip-hop, is a track by the famed eye-patch sporting-British Emcee called,  “Children’s story“.

On the heels of Slick Rick’s first mention, it is only right to chase that drink with a second helping of Slick Rick. This time, it’s via a collaboration with the ATLien duo, known as Outkast on the track  “The art of Story Telling“. Outkast f. Slick Rick.

Two of the top rappers in the game, Nas and Jay- Z also have a couple of stories that standout to me as lyrical illustrations of real life situations.

Jay-Z’s ” Meet the Parents” is something like a hip-hop Shakespearian Drama:

while Nas’ “Rewind” is like watching a VHS backwards- right before you take it back to Blockbuster…

On the West coast…there are two or three tracks that are stories that I hold near and dear…

first is the track”Northern California” by San Quinn, which is a story about how the Bay Area came to its current position within the Rap game.

…and then there is a story by East Oakland’s own Yukmouth (1/2 of the Luniz- who made the song “I got 5 on it”), the track is titled ” City of Dope”  and gives an explicit account of the history of the streets of East Oakland as seen through a young man’s eyes, while coming of age in the crack-cocaine era.

Speaking of coming of age, the song “Southside” by Scarface,  was one of my favorite tracks growing up. In my teen years, you couldn’t imagine how often I used the line: “spent my day right off of (28th) broke and disgusted/ not a dollar to buy food/ but i’m smoking…so fuck it.”… ( I’d change the block Scarface references to  the block we hung out on.)

Speaking of smoking, and hanging out with the boys, and a classic lines in story rhymes… I give you Christopher Wallace’s contribution:  “Call my niggas on the cell/ bring some weed, I’ve got a story to tell”.

Notorius BIG ” I gotta Story to Tell

I noticed… many of my the story songs take a dark tone; they speak about death and portrayal, they speak of crime and sin. And I couldn’t end on that note…So, before this train of thought pulls into the station, I’d like to play one uplifting story: “Today was a Good Day”- Ice Cube.

alright, that’s the end of the story hour for now…yall go make like Ice Cube and have a good day… oh, and keep this in mind:

…Let us lead a life so that we have a story to tell at the end, a story that moves people. a story that influences people. and not just another story that people listen to…

Advertisements

Check 1-2, 1-2…Dear Hip-Hop, These 12 songs are 4 You!

Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z recently came together to make yet another classic Hip-Hop track titled “I wanna Rock” (remix). Jay-Z’s entire verse is an ode to some of the influences in the rap game. It got me to thinking: what are other songs that are Ode’s to Hip-Hop/ music that I have to make note of….here’s the list:

(**there are two or three songs that the lovely people at youtube.com decided to make “Embedding disabled by request”…therefore you might have to click the link and watch them on youtube instead of this blog- thanks capitalism, you’ve done wonders for Hip-Hop)

To kick things off, I’d like to call on Erykah Badu, who is arguably the nicest female Emcee in history, but happens to be defined as an R&B/ neo-soul artist. I love this video, as it depicts Hip-Hop’s entire time line. From the block with donkey ropes and Addidas to the current world of corporate Hip-Hop, where white audiences reign supreme. The video is full of cameos: MC Lyte, Kool Herc, Chuck D, Common, and the legendary b-boy breaker Crazy Legs…check 1-2-1-2..check it out.

And while we’re on the topic of Badu, you gotta throw this one in there Erykah Badu’s “The Healer”…just because she dedicates it to J. Dilla, the late great producer…and she says “Hip-Hop…its bigger than the government.” And it is.

R.I.P Dilla

This next 1, might have flown under a couple of folks radars…but this is special to me: I used to this on repeat when I was about 10 or 11 years old…and at that time, you had to listen to the whole song, and rewind the tape in order to listen to it agian.

R.I.P. Freeky Tah

Eric Sermon’s “Just Like Music” This is a refreshing track, made by a legendary emcee and is a great example of the power of sample; using the legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye’s vocals.

R.I.P. Marvin Gaye

Afrika Bambaataa’s track…it’s a prerequisite to breing a hip-hop head… you don’t know this. Hip-Hop Don’t know you!

Dead Prez’s Hip-Hop…this is the power of Hip-Hop in terms of revolt against media control. This is motivation music; when this song comes on in my headphones, I have to hold myself back from doing push-ups…cause doing push-ups on the metro train is a little too gangsta for the majority of society.

Speaking of gangsta, you can’t more gangsta than NWA.The group’s resurgence in the late 90’s brought about this track…it wasn’t an ode to hip-hop as much it was “chin-check” of the so-called gangsta rappers of the day. Just a lil something to say “Hello”, and let the word know who started this Gansta shit: West side!!!

R.I.P. Easy- E.

Keeping it in the hood… One of my favorite’s and probably one of the most underated tracks in the history of Ode’s to Hip-Hop, not only was this song slept on by many, but I even slept on the video was looked over too! with appearances from Bun-B, Devin the Dude, and Scarface; Cleveland artist Ray Cash’s “Bumpin my Music” had to make the list…

Since we’re in the South now, we have to mention Outkast. They are the greatest Hip-Hop duo in the history of mankind. period. And with their artistry combined with Slick Rick’s aura, the song “art of story telling” is an ode to Hip-Hop’s basic purpose… a way for people without a voice to rhythmically tell their own story.

With the amount of life the last artists have put into the game, its hard to imagine Hip-Hop ever needing a tombstone…But Queens emcee Nasir Jones begged to differ. Nas’ “Hip-Hop is Dead” wasn’t an ode to Hip-Hop, it was more of an obituary… But it has it’s place on the list, for: if you love something, you should forever be critical of it.

Seemingly in response to Nas’ claim that Hip-Hop had met its death date, a slew of young artist popped up with lyrical insight and a breath of new life into Hip-Hop. One of the most notable new artist on the scene is kid from Chicago by the name of Lupe. This track is not only a dedication to slain rapper from New Orleans, Soldier Slim, but a dedication to many young men and women who find life in beat breaks, fresh hooks, and clever punch-lines.

Lupe Fiasco’s “Hip- Hop save my life.”

And last but not least… the all time classic: Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Horay”…the original dedication to Hip-Hop.

Hope yall enjoyed this… R.I.P. to BIG and 2PAC, a number of other artist…And in the words of Eric B. and Rakim:

“what happened to peace?…oh yeah: PEACE!”