The Art of Storytelling

What up XXL Mag, back at it for day 2, it’s your man SK from the 718. For the second entry, I wanna go deeper into the convo of the album that I started, but I wanna take it to a certain spectrum of it. When writing my album, I did what came natural to me. No forced songs, no checklist of types of records I “had” to make (ie; a “club song”, a “hood song”, a “posse song”, etc), I just wrote what I know. So whatever you hear on the album really happened. As a writer though (I’ve been once since 2nd grade, before I made the words rhyme), I was always attracted to story telling. To me, when the right story is told it lasts forever, so when you’re able to convey that same essence to a beat and make it make sense (a lot of people try but don’t), the rest is a cakewalk.

Storytelling seems like a lost art in hip hop. Being able to create (or re-create) a world for listeners was something you fought to prove as an emcee. Before I go any further, I’m not one to wanna “bring back the 80′s and 90′s (contrary to popular belief) or anything like that, I’m all for elevation and the tomorrow being today as far as the music, but regardless, telling stories is what the genre started with. Knowing how to bring someone into whatever picture you’re painting, whatever scene you’re drawing, whatever points you’re trying to get across, to me, is one of the most important parts of being able to call yourself a writer, of any sorts.

Most people in hip hop get storytelling confused. Obviously, the majority of the best storytellers told stories that included characters, places, dates, play by play details, etc. It all makes for great visuals, and thus making it easier for the listener to get the point being given. For example, Nas, one of the dopest storytellers to ever talk to a beat, regularly created an entire world with records like “Blaze A 50,” “Undying Love,” and even took it a step further by becoming a non human object in records like “I Gave You Power,” easily seating him in the front row of the class amongst the likes of Scarface, Slick Rick, Kool G Rap, Ice Cube, etc. Along with the Biggies and Nas’ of the world exists another type of storyteller who isn’t as literal in their approach, but ironically made it that much more literal.

When thinking of storytellers, a lot of people don’t include the ones who tell stories without the characters, dates, places, etc. Take for instance Jay-Z. When the convo of storytellers is brought up, Jay is pretty much never included, due to the fact that he has maybe 2 songs involving full characters and play by play events (one being “Meet The Parents” 5/5 stars by far IMO). Really though, Jay has told more stories throughout the years than most of the rappers who get labeled as storytellers. His approach is more so recalling what really happened in his life, as opposed to creating a world of new characters who may reflect true events. When writing from that perspective, it most likely will always get looked at as just “rapping about your everyday and never gets interpreted as storytelling. In actuality though, ALL of that is telling stories. Records like “Can I Live,” “Never Change,” “Rhyme No More (the 2nd half of “A Million & One Questions” for those kinda lost),” “Coming Of Age,” “No Hook,” the list goes on. All of those are stories, point blank. When they’re told in first person though, they get lost in the shuffle and ultimately go over people’s heads.

With all of that being said, a good 99% of “The Salvation” is storytelling; some of it told in first person, some of it with characters and locations to bring you into another world, but it’s pretty much all stories. I feel as though you as a listener will definitely be able to relate to my stories by them being told as just ME. The content and approach of it all is something I know you’ll be in touch with once you get it. Records like “Metal Hearts”, “The Shooter’s Soundtrack,” “My Interpretation” and “For What It’s Worth” are just a few examples of what’s to be expected (I know you haven’t heard those yet, but just so you know what records keep an eye on). Even “The Beautiful Decay” is a story, in the most non literal sense of them all: “O.D. with the pen on the low key/and I become the backdrop when you tripping it O.T./the theme music for peddlers, call me what you want/but I leave room for measures, I’m on it from the jump/ and them, they cloud scoping, hoping the clouds open/I pen both sides, the poetry’s now motioned/pray to God that the car ain’t halted/beautiful decay is what we call it.” That 8 bars is all storytelling. Some parts clear as day, others tucked away underneath the lines.

My goal with my album is to tell my story, and in turn, tell yours, which in turn may hopefully inspire the rebirth of storytelling in hip hop. Not saying every song one writes has to be a story, but I’d definitely like to see it included a little more often (speaking of, shouts to Fab for getting his story game popping with “Loso’s Way,” especially the “I Miss My Love” joint. Good shit, go cop that).

Signing off, I’ll see y’all here tomorrow in day 3 of my guest blogging. Holla

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    SK – It’s obvious that you know the history of hip-hop and the culture. The storytellers you mentioned are all worthy of mention, Jay included.

    I think you’re spot on with the idea that there are different types of storytellers.

    Nice work…

  • Blake6000

    No 2PAC???? That dude entire life was told through his songs. How come he wasnt mentioned but Jay-Z was? What gives?

  • http://www.lovefilm.com Blake6000

    No 2PAC???? That dude entire life was told through his songs. How come he wasnt mentioned but Jay-Z was? What gives?Hmmmmm a tad bit biased but good nontheless….

  • DETROIT

    good shit hommie.

    when talking about hip hop story tellers, people always forget about SPICE 1! in my opinion he’s arguable the best story teller ever, as far as mc’s go. songs like “running out the crack house”, “money or murder”, and “187 proof” are flawless. Ghostface is a great storyteller also.

    i think jay get’s too much credit for “meet the parents” due to the fact that donald goines actually created that storyline. but he does do a great job narrating his life.

    • DETROIT

      COMMISSION!

  • $ykotic

    Good to see some guys have actually studied the game and not looking for a quick buck. Good drop fam.

    BTW looking forward to the video tomorrow.

  • Jame

    Good job with this. Totally on point with everything about Jay and other artists like him. Waiting on that album…

  • oskamadison

    With all due respect to G Rap, Nas, Scarface, etc., this right here is the illest story ever told in Hip-Hop, in terms of subject matter, flow, point of view and execution; De La Soul, “Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa”.

  • Jimmy Wulf

    Skyzoo, your column was definetly onpoint. However, you forgot to mention Andre 3000, AZ, Cormega, Raekwon, and one of the all time greatest storytellers, Ghostface Killah. FUCK THE COMMISSSION DOG, and FUCK VANESSA, WE RIDING NOW

    • *BLOCK*

      I CO-SIGN WIT U TWICE 1ST DRE 3000 DEFINATELY GOES ON THE LIST AND BIG BOI ADDED…I DONT KNOW HOW U CAN HAVE A POST ENTITLED “THE ART OF STORYTELLING” WITHOUT OUTKAST…EVERY VERSION OF THE ART OF STORYTELLING WAS DOPE..NOT TO MENTION SONGS LIKE TOILET TISHA, SPOTTIEOTTIEDOPALISCIOUS, AND COUNTLESS OTHER SONGS…

      MY 2ND CO-SIGN IS…FUCK THE COMMISSION LMAO..I’M GONNA BE HONEST I DIDNT KNOW OL BOY PARIS PERSHUN RODE WIT YALL…I LIKE THE WHOLE TURNS (SONG NAME HERE)__________WAY WAY WAY…U KNOW HOW IT GOES…OH WELL

      *BLOCK*
      ~FRONT LINE ALLIANCE~
      CAROLINA SURVIVOR

  • JIMMY WULF

    FUCK THA COMMISSION

  • http://1290wmcs.com The Party Killa

    I think Ghost & Rae should B include in whatever storytelling MC sentence!

    • http://www.myspace.com/GulleeBoy Tha Truth

      YOU ARE ALL THE WAY RIGHT, GHOSTFACE SHOULD BE IN THE MIX OF THAT LIST, THAT NIGGA GHOST LIKE THE BEST STORYTELLER I DONE HEARD, REAL TALK

      I LIKE PAC, JAY, SLICK RICK, AND ALL THEM, BUT THAT NIGGA “GHOSTFACE” TELL THEM HOOD STORIES SO GOOD DOG, BE HAVING ME TRIPPIN OUT

      http://www.Myspace.com/GulleeBoy

  • Chase Mora

    Fuck tha commission dog, we starting a new movement; Called-MODERN WARFARE; so we are going to bring it to the Commission; check out our website soon for new artists, we will eventually be the first to respond to blogs, and we are taking the blog game by storm; Website will be: http://www.fuckthacommisson.com; PIERZY is a transsexual, look it up…..

    CM

  • http://xxlmag jb

    What about Cube? My Summer Vacation? Lil Ass Gee? And you cant 4get Slick Rick.
    http://www.myspace.com/lidujay

  • hate

    skyzoo be tellin ill stories himself. one of his best tracks is about a dude from ny who’s broke as fuck, bitchy baby mom’s, 9to5 bullshit, etc etc. decides to cop some work and head south with his man.everythings good at 1st, but then shit gets all fucked up. can’t remember the name of it, but skyzoo story is madd visual. its like a 5 min song an you can really see the whole thing while u listen.

  • Jame

    @CM – good to see you have a whole crew of people moving towards something completely void of progress. Congrats.

  • El Tico Loco

    Good points on this blog, hate to say it but that’s also what got Will Smith noticed and I ain’t talkin “parents don’t understand” but his 1st album joints, and what about Pharoahe Monch, Big L looks like u can’t be considered legendary without storytellin skills, not one new cat’s been mentioned, I’ll throw Lupe on there.

  • http://-- gaddic

    Nice blog it’s good to see people have knowledge about hiphop
    These ignorant kids nowadays just jump on whoever’s dick has the most hype not having a decent/intelligent taste in the genre’s musical principles

    The slew of MC’s nowadays are missing these concepts of true talent and skill that’s why hiphop is dieing!
    it’s all about partying autotune and dance instructions storytelling is almost non-existent!

    by the way
    jay’s definitley a a quality storyteller… just nowhere near Nas!

  • http://danjlovesthe90s.wordpress.com DANJ!

    ayo… how come ‘POac fans always gotta cite some kinda conspiracy when he’s not mentioned in something? Good God Damn.

    And yep, Big, Cube, and Nas told some serious stories, and of course Slick Rick held it down, especially with the voices which was extra-innovative. Black Rob was really one of the last to make that a major part of his repertoire. It’s really kinda a lost art- I think rappers now figure they’ll lose listeners, because listeners are so ready to just hear “A-B-C” shit, they’d prob’ly get lost in an actual story. That said, I might have to check out the Fab album if he’s spinnin’ some tales on there…

    -DANJ!
    danjlovesthe90s.wordpress.com

  • $ykotic

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    85′ers want to stagnate positive thoughts with negativity.

    And it’s the COMMENT GAME. NOT BLOGS.

    AND THE COMMISSION DUDES ALREADY DID THAT.

  • vhingrhamesonyo’momma

    Zoo, what about beans my nigga? track sixteen duynasty album.

  • vhingrhamesonyo’momma

    ^^^
    haha, dynasty album. oh yeah and “what ya’ life like”.

  • e-mo918

    iz everybody 4gettn eminem iz a rediculous story teller?? n yea co sign bout pac n outkast

  • emo918

    yal 4gettn bout eminem?? ex STAN….n cosign 2pac n outkast should b mentioned

  • Pingback: Skyzoo – Strung Out (Cabes Remix) | OnSMASH

  • El Tico Loco

    What’s up with the crabs in barrel ass commission haters? You gotta have a sad life of involuntary celibacy to get your emotions tangled up into a group of niggaz you wouldn’t even know if you saw them in the streets, a fuckthecommissio website? I never seen a bigger waste of bandwidth or time or potential productivity, read the comments, be entertained, agree, disagree, whatever but is not that serious b, any retaliation comment will just make ya’ll look more sad.

    • $ykotic

      Real talk lord. Preposterous.

      One day only. “My life”. My bad Skyzoo. BK all day but I got something to say…

      A n*gga(Black as hell. An Original man) is sitting by his land by the lake right now on the left coast. Done switched to the G5 laptop from the ordinary G5 24″ iMac. Done caught 7 trout in MY stream. Bought 2 cows, 5 chickens, and 2 sheep this weekend so I can eat THE WHOLE WINTER. And I’m going Elk hunting next week b4 I go back east. I can carry a shotty over here, which I have the rack in my new Armada, so long as the shells are separate.

      I GET PAID $500 FOR U JUST TO SEE ME, AND $75 PER HOUR. ARCHITECT DESIGN CONSULTANT. 2 clients before noon PST TODAY. AND GETTING SOLAR PANELS ON THE HOUSE SO OBAMA’S SENDING ME STIMULUS BREAD.

      My girl already picked the veggies & salad mixings from MY farm-ish back yard. WHY THE F*CK WOULD I WANT TO BE IN BROOKLYN RIGHT NOW? TO BUY A HAPPY MEAL? BUY RANCID FOOD @ KEY FOOD?

      And I hired 3 cats to tend the farm so I’m getting ANOTHER STIMULUS CHECK N*GGAZ. I OWN A LLC. Pay taxes in 3 states and the kids bellies are full. AND I GOT A HOUSE TOO OVER HERE AND NYC.

      Why is this relevant? I wanna see dudes make it. This f*cking hatred sh*t is killing us. THE COMMISSION IS ALL THE REGULAR JOE’S! IT’S LIKE YOU’RE DISSING YOURSELF. WE LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER!

      AND I’M FLUENT IN 120. Ask about the NGE’s.

      Y’all don’t even know there’s like 80 + heads and random dudes down. I’ve been around the planet 4x over and have deep connects in the game. Still ain’t cocky. I BUILD WITH DUDES. I never destroy a man’s thought. I show reality to all regardless of whom or what.

      I don’t even think cats know why they hate The Commission.

      May have been too much info, but I’m legit. And at peace with myself.

      LOVE, PEACE, AND HAPPINESS

      • Capital G

        What the fuck is going on here? Pussies really set up a hatin’ ass site dedicated to shootin off at the mouth about the origin of the most articulate comments on this site? How can some faggot come to a hip hop website and hate on a group of cats that can prolly be considered the equivalent of historians of the culture. Fuck outta here with these lame ass dudes. I don’t even claim it but fuck it, Long Live the Commission!
        And @$yk– if you have all the shit poppin that you mentioned, much respect on your success. These lil’ fucks should be asking for advice and guidance instead of committing random acts of E-thuggery. Bitch made disrespectful children.

      • *BLOCK*

        BLOCK BITCH!!!!!!!!!!!

        SYK YOU ON SOME SUPER BIZ MAN SHIT…THATS WHATS UP BRO…I ADMIT I TALK SHIT ABOUT THE COMMISSION OUT OF FUN….I AINT ABOUT TO GO SET UP A WHOLE WEBSITE AND SHIT…ATLEAST NOT FOR YALL LMAO….LATELY I JUST BEEN GIVING OL FEDERAL (PARK) RANGA A HARD TIME LOL…GET TO THAT BREAD THOUGH

        I HAVE PICKED UP A LIL HATER MYSELF…MEANS I MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT…RIGHT?

        *BLOCK*
        ~FRONT LINE ALLIANCE~
        CAROLINA SURVIVOR

        • http://myspace.com/federalranga Federal Ranga

          Nigga, please…

          Giving me a hard time? You got me fucked up. The only thing you giving me is more hits to all my pages… even when you slander my name it only generates curiosity and sends MORE people to all my shit. Myspace, youtube, XXLmag.com… you losing, stupid.

          Where yo music at? Where yo freestyles at? Where ya videos at? You just here…

          And for the record pimpin… ain’t shit hard about North Cack… now you say South Caro? We can talk… get at me, fool. I ain’t hard to find… and thanks to you? I’m easy to holla at than ever.

          Consider yourself *BLOCKSLAPPED*

          Fuck outta here… you gonna get me killed, I’m laughin so damn hard over here…

  • Enlightened

    To me – the most underrated storyteller of all time (because he NEVER gets mentioned) is Mystikal

    That nigga would put the comedy shit in it and have a nigga rollin’!

    See: “Bitch Been Sleepin’ With Me” for example off the Unpredictable album

    or his whole Smoking Bud song trilogy

    “Straight from jail to the weed spot/ shit I took that as a minor setback HELL NAW I AIN’T STOP/ and I’m… still smokin’ bud”

    Classic shit

    • *BLOCK*

      BLOCK BITCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

      YOU MIGHT BE RIGHT…SOON AS I READ THE NAME I STARTED THINKING ABOUT ALL THE SONGS HE TOLD STORIES ON AND YUP….HE GOT SOME CLASSICS…HATE HIS CAREER ENDED OVER THAT B.S.

      D.M.X WAS A PRETTY GOOD STORYTELLER TOO

      youtube.com/federalranga <—-FREE PROMO!!

      *BLOCK*
      ~FRONT LINE ALLIANCE~
      CAROLINA SURVIVOR

  • GMIAMI

    There are a lot of great storytellers out n da history of hip hop but the greatest storytelller of all time is Ice Cube.

  • des

    forgot lupe fiasco

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

    Peace Skyzoo. Sounds like you got your head right [||]. A necessary component to survival in this game.

    In other news, this website’s comment section is starting to resemble SOHH.com’s. SMH. Definitely not a good look @ all. People wonder why society shys away from fucking with Hip Hop. It’s a sad ass day when we can’t even get down on a social thread without all the bullshit negativity that we already are forced to deal with everyday of OUR LIVES in the real world.

    Damn, niggas really can’t have shit. I always thought that was some backwards hustle mantra that folks used as an excuse. Goddamned shame.

    • $ykotic

      NAW GRAND$ I’MA STAND UP FOR SOMETHING BEFORE I FALL FOR ANYTHING.

      YOU KNOW I DONE CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD. AT LEAST IF PEOPLE DON’T AGREE, DON’T DEGRADE DUDES BECAUSE MOST DUDES HERE DON’T PUT A DUDE DOWN “JUST BECAUSE”.

      JUST DON’T COMMENT.

      THEN WHERE DUDES GONNA GO? WORLDSTAR? THEM THE FEDS! RAPRADAR? NAHRIGHT? ESKAY AIN’T GETTING DOWN LIKE THAT. HE’S OVER/UNDERGROUND. WE ALL KNOW SOHH CAUGHT THE SWINE FLU OVER TRASH LIKE THIS. 50′S SITE IS FILLED WITH YOUNGIN’S WHO REALLY AIN’T READY. IT’S THE SAME HEADS WHO KILL THE COMMENTS THAT ARE THE SAME ONES WHO WILL CRY “LET ME GET ON”. “MY MYSPACE PAGE IS…” “OLD HEADS NEED TO FALL BACK”.

      AND IT’S A DAMN SHAME BECAUSE THEY PICKED SKYZOO’S THREAD, A YOUNGIN WHO HAS HIS HEAD ON TIGHT, TO PULL THIS GARBAGE. WE COULD HAVE KEPT IT @ YESTERDAY’S THREAD. LIKE WE’VE BEEN KEEPING THE JEREMIYH THREAD ALIVE FOR ALMOST 2 MONTHS.

      DUDES WANNA HOLLER @ THE GOD $YK? ASK FOR THE LINKS AND LET’S BUILD. UNTIL THEN, IF IT DON’T APPLY TO YOU FALL BACK AND WE WILL SEE/HEAR/READ YOU NEXT POST.

      LOVE, PEACE, AND HAPPINESS TO ALL.

  • Master CHeef

    that’s what it do, Sky(zoo & otic)

  • beatz23

    Lupe also one of the best storytellers in hip hop recently

  • http://www.justice.gov.za GO-Getta’

    If ur album is good as ur blogging skills then hip hop has a hope.
    I throughly enjoyed reading this shit & it has’nt been in a long time.

    The art of story telling is on some decay period.
    The last i enjoyed was on Game’s album track where he is acting as though he was Pac/Big & Ezzy E that was dope story telling right there.

  • poetic death

    why is`nt lupe and enimen mentioned

    -poetic death-

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