Hip-Hop Story Narration: Jay Z and Nas

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The art of story telling has been passed down from our ancestors and their ancestors and so on. Some of us listen to hip-hop and don’t realize that we are listening to a story. We hear the beat and lyrics but don’t recognize the meaning or story they are telling right away. In some cases, the story may not be blatantly visible with a beginning, middle and end. For example, Cobb points out that the late B.I.G “was among that elite few who broke up that structure, conveying significant portions of the tale via flashbacks” (To the Break of Dawn, p113). MCs share experiences with us by narrating fictional (some non-fictional) tales that keeps us asking for more.

In a way, hip-hop artists are like movie directors by providing actors/actresses to act out the story that includes a theme, setting and a significant moral of the story. Nas’ tells a story on his song 2nd Childhood about 3 characters, himself, a 31 year old man and a 27 year old woman. Although all the characters are adults, neither of them are grown, hence the title 2nd Childhood. In the second verse Nas raps, “All his peoples moved on in life, he's on the corners at night with young dudes it's them he wanna be like it's sad but it's fun to him right? He never grew up 31 and can't give his youth up; he's in his second childhood.” The character is portrayed as the “typical” black man out of jail who never tried to change his life and is back to his old antics. The female character is portrayed as the mother who doesn’t give her child any love, wants to be fly but can’t keep a job, sits outside drunk running her mouth when she could be working giving her child and herself a better life. “Time flyin she the same person, never matures, all her friends married doin well, she's in the streets yakkety yakkin like she was 12.” The moral of the story is simply, make something of yourself. Make grown-up decisions and don’t act like a child.

The hip-hop audience today has a passion for crime, sex, money and...
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