Lists

The ten best storytellers in hip-hop

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4. Notorious B.I.G. Biggie had a way of luring you into his world effortlessly with his tone and voice and the ways he puts words together. His flow is conversational. So when he raps a story, it's like you're seated at a smoky poker table, and he's on the opposite end telling it directly to you. In "Somebody's Gotta Die," Big plays a gangbanger who gets caught up in the rush and ultimate tragedy of revenge. He raps "I Got a Story to Tell" about his affair with the girl of a Knicks player. It sounds like it's probably true.

3 Raekwon and Ghostface Killah It was too hard to choose between these two as the storytelling rep from Wu-Tang, so we paired them, partially because a lot of their best storytelling is done together like on their album Only Built for Cuban Linx. These two give a cinematic quality to their rhymes thanks to the quirky details they provide, like in "Shakey Dog," when Ghostface describes two men "on the couch watchin' Sanford & Son, passin' they rum, fried plantains and rice, big round onions on a t-bone steak." It's as if a polished novelist wrote the scene.

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Noah Hubbell