Life Lines: Seven of Hip-Hop’s Best Biographical Tracks
Biography books are frequently best sellers. Biopics are huge box office draws. There’s The E! "True Hollywood Story" and "Behind the Music" on television. In fact, an entire cable network is even called the Biography Channel. People are fascinated by other people’s life stories - and Hip-Hop is no exception.
In rap’s rich history, there are just as many original stories as there are people to tell them. Therefore, AllHipHop.com has compiled a list of biographical tracks that surpass self-indulgence and provide vivid accounts of personal events, masterfully capture moments in time, and tap into human emotions that many can relate to.
Here is AllHipHop.com's compilation of 7 tracks that made rappers re-think the way that they told their own stories:
7). “Outta Here”(1993) by KRS-One: Only KRS could reference I Dream of Jeannie over a DJ Premier-produced bass line and still come off as cool as a fan. The second cut on KRS’ first solo offering, taken as a whole though, tells his life story. From falling in love with Hip-Hop to battling in a shelter to the murder of DJ Scott La Rock, it’s all here. In other words, if KRS-One is the Teacha, these are are the subjects that went on his syllabus first.
6). “Neva Have 2 Worry”(2008) by Snoop Dogg: The song has Snoop breaking down his career into three stages. Using a spoken-word flow, he talks about his time with Death Row, stay at No Limit, and realization of his iconic status. But the record packs its most powerful punch near the end of the first verse (The one up above didn’t like my pace/I was movin’ too fast, and I caught that case/I fought that case, wonder where the West would be if I’da lost that case).
5). “Last Real N***a Alive”(2002) by Nas: Nas is one of rap’s greatest storytellers and this is a prime example of why. In detail that rivals a screenplay, he discusses his ascent in Hip-Hop and touches on his connections to New York’s Hip-Hop elite. And in one final remark on the Ron Browz-produced track (who also produced “Ether”), Nas puts the nail in Jay-Z’s coffin as far as their battle is concerned by referring to himself as Scarface and Jay-Z as Manolo.
4). “December 4th” (2003) by Jay-Z: With an appearance by Jay-Z’s mother, there is a very personal touch added to an already personal record. Considering The Black Album was also billed as Jay’s last LP, the fact that the album starts with a story that begins with his birth and ends with him fading to black makes for some epic sh*t! And he knew it too, that’s probably why it was his closing number at his Madison Square Garden “retirement” concert in November of 2003.
3). “Intro” (1994) by The Notorious B.I.G.: A greater album introduction has yet to be done. The way each “scene” is time-stamped with popular music of the time period is brilliant. And when coupled with dialogue depicting various points in Biggie’s life, there was no question about who he was or where he was coming from. Biggie demonstrated immediately on his debut that he was a master storyteller, and hadn’t even rapped a single bar on it yet.
2). “Last Call”(2004) by Kanye West: Despite being placed at the end of a song, instead of appearing as a stand-alone track, the autobiographical monologue that closes out The College Dropout is one of the greatest outros in Hip-Hop history. Kanye’s story and struggle is told proving that he worked hard for his spot and overcame the odds. Unfortunately, he hasn’t sounded that humble or human since.
1). “The Story” (2005) by Bun B: This song is one verse with no hook and clocks in at just shy of six-minutes in length. It is one of Bun’s best records ever and chronicles his rise to fame alongside Pimp C, who was then incarcerated, as UGK in great detail. Tragically, two years after Pimp C’s release from prison, he died. But thankfully, he did live long enough to hear his friend and partner-in-rhyme share their story with the world.
Speak up! What songs do you think are the best biographies? Let us know in the comments section below!