Rappers have long used their medium as a way to tell vivid and complex tales. One of the first examples was Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story,” which was reworked by Mos Def and Talib Kweli in their song by the same name, using a metaphor (ironically) about biting in hip-hop.

Common wrote one of the most well-known extended metaphors with the classic “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” in which a girl represents his relationship with hip-hop. The track has inspired plenty of spin-offs, like MF DOOM's “The M.I.C.” and Kanye West’s “Homecoming.”

Those two songs don't just retell the same story—rather, they use the story’s structure as an outline and rework the inner content, finding originality within a tribute to the songs and stories that inspired them. Kanye’s girl in "Homecoming" is a metaphor for Chicago, while DOOM's "M.I.C." emphasizes the art of performance in rap.

Being inspired by others to tell your own story is an important part of the genre's continuing growth and evolution, but if you're simply regurgitating what has come before, stop.

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