The ten best storytellers in hip-hop

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8. Immortal Technique "Dance With the Devil" might be the most powerful story ever told in hip-hop; it's gripping and almost enjoyably inevitable until the staggering, tragic end. "Peruvian Cocaine" is a posse cut where the rappers play roles in an elaborate, politically damning tale of how cocaine gets moved from Colombia to the U.S. "You Never Know" is a beautiful love story that ends in the heartbreak that all of Tech's stories seem to end in.

7. DMX DMX has an intensity level that gives importance to everything he says, and his ragged voice adds character. He also speaks from the heart, and when he laments his inability to take control of his life in "Slippin'" and the "Damien" series, you believe it, and because of the way he says it, you pay attention. DMX's flow is very natural with enjambment that veils his rhymes behind the more important themes, and his stories are rich in vivid imagery -- "I keep 'em scattering like roaches when the light goes on" from "Crime Story" -- and dark epiphany.

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Noah Hubbell