Storytelling in Hip-Hop

Hip-Hop Storytellers

Storytelling is a great past-time, present in virtually every culture and community. African-American has a diverse spectrum of storytelling, covering everything from versions of slave narratives and folktales to stories told through Hip-Hop.

Hip-Hop is not exempt. From it's inception, great lyricist like Slick Rick and Rakim have excited, educated and entertained their listeners. Intricate word play, often against formidable opponents has created a rich legacy of storytelling to be continued by artist such as J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Wale.


Storyteller: Slick Rick

Title of Story: Children’s Story

Source: The Great Adventures of Slick Rick

Main Characters: Two troubled male youths

Setting: A time in the recent past when people wore pajamas and lived life slow

Plot: Two young men conspire to rob elderly people. After becoming enthralled with his new hobby, one of the young men finds himself in a precarious situation.

Type of Story: Cautionary Tale

Lesson: Living a life of crime can lead you down a dangerous and even fatal path.

Additional Resources

Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop

Bradley, Adam . Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop. 1st Ed. New York : Basic Civitas Books, 2009. Print.

Vh1 Storytellers Series