A (sloppy) script to find ‘narrative’ rap songs

One of the most important rap songs that I’ve heard is this song by Eyedea.  It’s about a dude that is a painter.  He keeps having a dream about his body on the ground, seeing it from a bird’s-eye point of view.  There is a loud noise that he can’t quite make out in this dream.  This dream keeps bothering the dude and he starts to become less fun to be around.  One day, when he’s at the art gallery he frequents (for inspiration/ideas) he sees a painting.  In this painting,  a person is on the ground, on a runway, with an airplane beside the body.  The airplane propellor is spinning and this noise matches up with the noise from his dreams.  He starts to go crazy because this painting is describing his dream. He is the creator and the subject of the art at the same time.  He starts to think that maybe his whole existance is nothing more than a character in some ‘cosmic painting’.  And that maybe every character ever created believes he/she is alive.  Of course, this is probably just a psychelically-influenced concept but Eyedea is always cool enough to distance himself from these things by saying “Just a theory, I don’t know what it means.  But that’s the story of the man who trained himself not to dream “.

Anyways, why this particular song and a few others in Eyedea’s catalog are powerful to me is because the characters don’t have names and Eyedea doesn’t tell the story from his POV.  Rather, he is a sort of observer of these things and he uses 2nd person pronouns (the main character referred to simply as he in this story).  Eyedea is a supporting character (something that requires a lot of confidence to do, I think) and the only instances of ‘I’ in this story support the idea of Eyedea being just a secondary, supporting character:

His experience was one I couldn’t comprehend
‘Till I stopped being detective and listened to him as a friend

Anyways, these are some of my favorite stories.  And so I decided to script something to find songs that exhibit these kinds of patterns with respect to distribution of pronouns (more you/he/she/they than i/me/myself).   The idea being, are we able to find narrative-y philosophical song that describe the world by use of 2nd person pronominals?  A few returns after using COMPLEX ALGORITHMS to find songs that are similar to Eyedea’s Color My World Mine.

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1. Nas – Black Zombies

Nas talking about societal stuffs through the conspiracy theory “Do you believe?” lense.  Was actually my favorite Nas song at one point I think.

2.

This song apparently is urging people/you to be gr8 and to try hard and not to be petty/bad.  Thinking that there are religious undertones but I’m not sure.

3. Big L – I Don’t Understand It

One of the unintended consequences of this script is that it returns battle rap-ish songs.  In this song Big L (who is unbelievably overrated) says that you/other mc’s suck and he doesn’t understand why other mc’s suck.  Don’t really understand how carving out a career saying, essentially, ‘I am dope on the mic’ could elevate someone to being great but it is cool.  I was looking for straight narrative raps or philosophical things that try to deconstruct society/ppl with this program and it sucks that ‘2nd person sucker’ raps filter through.  But it’s cool.

4. MF Doom – Mordern Day Mugging

Fractured story by the GOAT MF Doom where he talks about mugging people.  Starts with a quick introduction about a smart guy who turns to a life of thieving (and rapping) and most of the pronoun usage in this song seems to come from Doom describing how to rob people and how people react to muggings.

5. Danny! – Stay Away

A manual where Danny! tells us about his home city and tells the listener, YOU, to stay away for a bunch of different reasons.

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There are about ~1000 songs in the database that use the YOU technique thing a lot and if you want to listen to those songs please click here.

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One thought on “A (sloppy) script to find ‘narrative’ rap songs

  1. Brian says:

    Ever do a break down on Paul Barman ever?

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