If ya’ll haven’t noticed we just love hip-hop over here at 1115 Broadway and spend good portions of our day arguing about music and our collective opinions. About two months ago me, the homie Brain “B.Dot” Miller and King Magazine’s (And Nas Stan) Thomas Golianopoulos argued all day on who’s the best storytellin’ MC Biggie, Slick Rick or Nas. Thomas and B.Dot argued for Nas. To me Rick is the G.O.A.T storyteller, but Big is a very, very, very close second. Let’s break it down into categories.
Character Building: Slick Rick
When it comes to fictional rap characters there is none greater than Slick Rick’s “Mona Lisa.” The game-spittin, pizza-eatin’ virgin with the “yay like gap” will forever have a place in hip-hop history. Even though Big created some of the game’s most dynamic characters (Arizona Ron from Tucson, Dark Skin Jermaine and his man Two Techs) the Ruler got this category on lock.
Twist Endings: Notorious B.I.G.
Nobody does surprise endings like Big; dude is a ghetto M. Night Shyamalan. On “Somebody’s Gotta Die” the Brooklyn Don made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when he finally caught up to Jason, screamed out “Hey playboy” and “The nigga turnt around holdin’ his daughter.” Then on “Niggas Bleed,” Big and Arizona Ron ran out the hotel, escaping the dreads who were sent to kill ‘em, because “Through all the excitement/Their Range got towed, they double parked by a hydrant.” Stupid motherfuckers!
When it comes to narration Nas is the master. The fact that homie doesn’t always make himself the star of his own rhymes was key. So when Nasdaq approached a story, he often took his ego out, check “Blaze a 50″ and “Shootouts.” The illest instance is Nas’ verse on Tragedy’s “Calm Down.” It was as if dude was just standing on the corner, telling you a story about the “victorian” who in turn became “the victim.”
Humor: Slick Rick
Nas probably has the funniest story rhyme ever when you think about “Who Killed It?” (off of HHID), but that shit was funny for all the wrong reasons (What was up with that fake ass James Cagney voice?!? LMAO). But when it comes to straight comedy, Rick got ‘em beat. Remember on “Indian Girl” when Ricky D talked about the Dave checking out homegirl’s coochie only to see crabs with spears and Indian drums? Plus when dude gets to singin’ on his tracks, it’s over.
Post Production: Notorious B.I.G.
When making story tracks, production is key and sound effects are an excellent touch. When Jason turned around holding his daughter on “Somebody’s Gotta Die” we heard rain, gunshots and then the baby crying, that shit was chilling (and disturbing at the same time). And let’s not forget the beep going off at the beginning of “Warning,” that shit was the perfect touch (“Who the fuck is this/Paging me at 5:46“).
Detail: Notorious B.I.G.
When it comes to detail, Biggie Smalls is the illest. On “Niggas Bleed” in the first verse when he’s talking about “Word to stretch I think the pussy/The 7 digits pushed me (fuckin’ real)/I got 100 bricks, 14.5 a piece… everybody getting cream no one considered a leech/Think about it now that’s damn near 1.5/I kill ‘em I’ll be set for life.” Now Big could’ve stopped at “7 digits,” or “100 bricks at 14.5 a piece,” but no he kept on beating you in the head telling you 3 different times that the jux would total over $1 million dollars. Then on “Everyday Struggle” he talks about “Smoking mad Newports/’Cause I’m due in court/For an assault/That I caught in Bridgeport, New York.” Who the fuck name drops “Bridgeport, New York?” But it was that attention to detail which kept you listening!
Overall Believability: Nas
I won’t front Big’s rhymes were so detailed, I found myself questioning whether they were true or not (Did he really fuck “some chick getting dick from one of the New York Knicks?” Was it John Starks’ girl?), but when it comes to overall believability Nas got it. God’s Son laced his rhymes with enough action to keep fans listening, but never really went over the top, making his stories way more believable than Rick and Big. When he did “Drunk By Myself,” you could just picture Nas about to catch a DUI. The ultimate had to be “N.Y. State of Mind,” when he talked about the kids in the building lobby who “couldn’t see as high as I be.”
Ok now ya’ll can start hating with comments like “How could you not include 3 Stacks” and “Where is Scarface?” Have at it! – Rob The Music Ed