Nas - I Gave You Power
The Kool Skool's Top 10 Concept Songs
Hip-Hop & Lyrics are obviously the back bone of Hip-Hop Culture but the Concept song is only to be attempted by True Lyricists! A concept song is a song that has a unified theme or story running through it. Due to the changing formats and reliance on the Singles charts, the Concept song became less popular, during the CD singles era, A&R's would allow less leeway for the Artist to "waste" tracks on tracks that aren't "Bangers". However, due to the Independence of the Internet, Artists have a greater opportunity to explore more creative themes and ideas on songs. This is not a complete list, and in no particular order, but a selection of some of the most powerful examples in our opinion. Please feel free to add your own in the comments sections. Enjoy!
or watch them all as a Playlist HERE
Nas - I Gave You Power (1996)
In this song from Nas's "It Was Written" Album he tells the story from the 1st Person perspective of a Ghetto Gun, and how he is manipulated to commit different crimes. This song is not a glorification of violence, but a explanation of how gun crime works in Urban America, it could also be looked at as a metaphor for the Commercialization of Hip-Hop by Corporate Companies.
Sadat X - The Daily News (2005)
Off of Sadat X's 3rd solo album, Experience & Education, Sadat, while reading a newspaper, turns headlines and editorial stories into a coherant almost freestyle Rhyme. ILL! Sadat is one of Hip-Hop's hardest working MC's working with most of Hip-Hop's greats, a true lyricist!
Slick Rick - "Children's Story" (1989)
"Children's Story" is a song by London-born American Hip-Hop artist Slick Rick, from his album "The Great Adventures of Slick Rick". In most peoples opinion, one of the 1st, if not the greatest story Rhymer, & Rhyme of all time!
Heltah Skeltah - Therapy (1996)
This song by Brooklyn duo Rock and Ruck (now known as Sean Price) of Boot Camp Clik) is a clever back and forth conversation between the two, one as a Mental Health Patient and a Doctor, almost a modern re-make of U.T.F.O's Split Personality below.
3rd Bass - Problem Child (1991)
MC Serch, Prime Minister Pete Nice, and later DJ Richie Rich featured "Problem Child" on their second Album Derelicts of Dialect. It is a powerful song describing the trials of children who are forced to grow up to quickly. This album really showed the groups progression, and it was a true shame they never released another album together, although they both went on to release solid solo albums. The album is full of skitz, and a good example is the funny "Al'z A-B-Cee'z"an imaginary song by DJ Richie Rich's Dad.
Lupe Fiasco - Little Weapon (2007)
Lupe Fiasco is really one of the best modern MC's using proper concepts in his Music and albums. Little Weapon is a stand out track, from his excellent Concept album The Kool. Little Weapon discusses the concept of Child Soldiers, in many different countries and situations, Lupe is a thinking man's MC, and and the song deals with very sophisticated issues.
Masta Ace feat Jean Grae - Soda & Soap
Masta Ace is in my opinion one of the most underrated MC's, consistanly dropping classic albums and songs. Masta Ace links up with dope Femcee Jean Grae to record a mind blowing concept song making story raps out of the Brand names of Soft Drinks and Soap. Genius. Masta Ace is a master of Concept Albums and songs, if you haven't checked the albums Disposable Arts" (2001) which features "Unfriendly Game" a American Football ode to Large Professor and Main Sources "A Freindly Game Of Baseball" and "A Long Hot Summer" (2004) your missing out!
Papoose - Alphabetical slaughter Z to A (Part 2)
The most recent edition of Papoose's REDICULOUS alphabetical song needs to be heard to be believed! Anyone who follows The Kool Skool know that in our opinion Pap is the best MC out there hands down! If you don't know him check here! Papoose - Alphabet Slaughter Part 1 (1999) check the DUMB NICE Lyrics here!!!
U.T.F.O. - Split personality
Brooklyn based U.T.F.O. originally dancers for Whodini, Kangol Kid, the Educated Rapper (EMD), Doctor Ice and Mix Master Ice came together and released several albums. This comedy track is about a person with a Split Personality complex, with Doc Ice playing his famous and hilarious "Dread Doc" character. Doctor Ice also released his own slept on solo album with a Anti "Desert Storm" song "I Ain't Going".
Organized Konfusion - Stray Bullet (1994)
Prince Poetry & Pharoahe Monch were Organized Konfusion, "Stay Bullet" was on the Hollywood Basic album Stress: The Extinction Agenda. It like the later "I Gave You Power" by fellow Queens native Nas, is a incredible story song told from the perspective of a bullet. One of the best examples of a Concept song.
Mr Len (feat. Jean Grae) - Taco Day (2001)
Jean Grae again this time guesting on Mr. Len's Album "Pity The Fool" where she examines the psychology of a prom queen high school shooter on an intense 9 minute track. Jean Grae is without a doubt one of the top Female MCs ever.
Geto Boys - My Mind Playing Tricks On Me (1991)
Texas group The Geto Boys are one of the Gangsta Rap era's most slept on greats, the media always tried to portray the genre as ignorant and violent, but Geto Boys, although dipped in Violence and had offensive lyrics, expressed an extremely intelligent message and dealt with serious issues, from the Anti-War "F**k A War", to "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta", and more. "My Minds Playing Tricks On Me" is three different mens battle with Paranoia, a Hip-Hop Classic.
Common - I Used To Love H.E.R
This song "I Used to Love H(earing) E(very) R(hyme) by Common (then known as Common Sense), is an open love letter to Hip-Hop and a protest to the negative aspects that were so promoted by Corperate Music Labels. It was released on the 1994 album Resurrection, reintroduced Common to a whole new audience as a more mature artist, and made this an instant classic, and figure head for the early 90's return to true Hip-Hop culture. More on this song and Common can be found here
Hard Knocks - Dirty Cop Named Harry - (1992)
Bronx Representers Hard Knocks, consisting of Hardhead and DJ Stoneface released Dirty Cop Named Harry on their only album "School of Hard Knocks" on Wild Pitch Records. This incredibly slept-on, solid album is packed full of Conscious Concept songs, and it was a shame they never released any more music.