To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic

By William Jelani Cobb | Go to book overview

4
sphalt Chronicles
Hip Hop and the Storytelling Tradition

Those of us who learned to write from the blues are to be envied, and
those of us who have since forgotten the lessons are to be pitied.

—Murray Kempton, “Bessie Smith: Poet”

To hear it told in certain corners of his native hood, the Notorious B.I.G.'s crime epic “Niggas Bleed” was either a work of deft urban fiction or some sublime boulevard journalism with the names changed to protect those who plead innocent. In either case, it is not the kind of story that comes with that stamp of authenticity: Based on True Events. The MC, almost by musical necessity, comes down firmly on the art-imitating-life side of the equation. Had traditional fiction been his bag, there would be no question as to where the creator of the above tale was coming from, no doubt as to the genre angle he was working. But his was a different route. “Niggas Bleed”—the eleventh track on his presciently classic sophomore album, Life After Death—might be the signal achievement of an artist who helped redefine hip hop's storytelling tradition.

A masterpiece of lyrical economy, the song relays the detailed exploits of a hustler trying to come up on his grand score. In a single verse, he conveys an entire introduction:

Today's agenda: Got the briefcase up in the Sentra
Go to room 112. Tell 'em Blanco sent ya.

The protagonist has been charged with delivering a suitcase to a hotel room for a kingpin named Blanco. Moments later we hear the boss caution him that the recipients of that bag are known killers: “these cats you

-107-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 200

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.