By Gio Gennero | sports editor
Music is at its best when a story is told, whether the story is told in a song or in an entire album. Music without a story is always great; sometimes it’s good not to pay attention to every word and just be able to vibrate to the beats.
For me, however, there’s something about having a story to follow that makes it all the more engrossing. Allow me to show my work.
The art of storytelling is a beautiful thing. Different aspects make the stories engaging, emotional and empowering. In “Da Art of Storytellin”, Outkast drops lots of names to go along with a quick description. Even though we don’t know who Sasha is in the song, we do know that she is Suzy’s partner. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she responds with “alive,” making listeners feel for Sasha even though we only know her through the words of this story.
Storytelling can be very simple. Sometimes that’s the best way to go. Some stories don’t need to be explained.
Tupac Shakur was known for his lyricism and storytelling abilities. I believe the power of his stories comes from the delivery of deep, thoughtful, and superficial outlines.
In the classic song ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’, he details the true story of a young girl who became pregnant as a pre-teen and eventually turned to drugs and prostitution, before being murdered. . He doesn’t deliver it through double meanings or through the voice of anyone other than his own. He leaves no clues about the tragedies of his life. He just says it, and it’s powerful in its own way.
The song has such raw emotion and pain that a lot of people don’t see the appeal. The idea that someone can tell a story so well – in a way that can make you feel for someone you’ve never met and will never know exists – is the appeal.
Other artists, like Kendrick Lamar, tell equally powerful stories but in much more complex ways. His song “FEAR”. is a nearly eight-minute song describing what fear means to him, and it’s told through multiple perspectives around a central theme.
The song begins with a voicemail from his cousin. In the first verse, he talks to a younger version of himself from his mother’s perspective. In the second verse, he is a young adult. In the final verse, he is caught up in the present, and the song ends with a voicemail from his father.
In each verse, Lamar doesn’t just tell you his fears. He paints a vivid picture that really comes to life with every passing moment. He doesn’t stop at, “I’m probably going to die because that’s what you’re doing at 17.” He details a potential death for himself in every line.
Even things that seem normal could go wrong for him at any time. The creepy lines almost make the listener feel anxious and uneasy, but that’s the point. Through storytelling, you understand what an artist really feels and why they feel that way.
Listen to a story the next time you listen to music. It gives songs and albums a deeper meaning, and you can make a deeper connection with the music itself.
I could go on for days on different music with great stories, but instead I’m going to leave some suggestions.
‘Stan’ by Eminem – He literally added a word to the dictionary.
“It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube – This is the definition of a feel-good song.
‘4 Your Eyez Only’ by J. Cole – It’s another story told on an entire album, but the title track is also a great storytelling song.
Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Good Kid MAAD City’ – The entire album should be considered cutting-edge cinema.