The mark of a good rapper is the ability to string words together into captivating rhymes, but the mark of a great one is the ability to weave those rhymes into stunning narratives that grip and maintain the listener's attention through the end of the song. As hip-hop has matured as an art form, writers have come along who have taken the craft to new heights with their storytelling talents. Suddenly what started out as giddy toasting over party music had evolved into something closer in spirit to the gifted griots of African history.

This is a list of the greatest storytelling raps in hip-hop history, from cautionary tales of lost souls on the road to ruin to locker room grade cataloguing of bedroom exploits to autobiographical yarns from over-sharing MCs sorting out their personal problems though the music, and of course, complex stick-em-up stories full of more blood and betrayal than Al Pacino's Scarface. What did we miss? What shouldn't be on the list? What should've ranked higher or lower? Shout at us in the comments. But for now, check out The 50 Best Storytelling Rap Songs

Written by Craig Jenkins (@CraigSJ

Listen to Complex's Best Storytelling Rap Songs playlists here: YouTube/Spotify/Rdio

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