The art of storytelling
Updated: May 7, 2020
“Brenda’s got a baby, but Brenda’s barely got a brain.”
What can you, as an impressionably keen reader, take from this one sentence? What kind of details can you scoop out of this one mediocre statement? I hope you’re imaginative enough to grow this seed into an enormous tree with radiating branches because that’s the sole purpose of this song lyric. It’s meant to tell a story. It’s meant to evoke a spark that’s within you to fan it into a flame.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been absolutely fascinated by hip hop music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not into the recent type of mumble rap that’s super mainstream in pop culture right now. When I say hip hop, I mean hip hop from the ’90s. Back when people used to wear doo rags, loose jeans and bandannas, and legends like Tupac and Biggie Smalls were alive was the highest point in hip hop and urban culture. Back when artists rapped about what really mattered and cared about having their voices heard. This particular song, Brenda’s Got a Baby, by Tupac Shakur is about the hardships of growing up in the ghettos living from paycheck to paycheck with little to no education. I could go on and on about the symbolism, themes, and motifs of the song but that’s an entirely separate piece of writing on its own.
The point I’m trying to make is that hip hop is not just about dropping a few bars on a beat. Not to me at least. It’s probably the most artistic way of telling a story, of getting an important story heard to the not-so-easily impressed, judgmental public. Artists used it as a medium to showcase their art to the world. I particularly enjoy Tupac and Nas’s works. They rap about real-world problems such as being oppressed as a minority race, the historical complications that their ancestors faced in the 1800s, and their hopes for the changes of the future. Most of their albums are extremely sentimental and the thing is, people are able to relate to it. It’s not like the music you hear now on radios where artists boast about their possessions or the amount of money they make. It’s so much more than that. Hip hop is a way for people to execute their feelings, thoughts, and dreams in an artistic way. I do the same thing, but with painting.
About three years ago, I was given the chance to showcase my personality and interests through an art exhibition at my high school. I made eight different paintings using acrylic and oil paint to get across my own point-of-view of things, my own fascinations. My exhibition had the same title as this article and followed the same content as well. I told stories through different shades of paint about how hip hop influenced me, allowed me to learn about certain things through a creative outlet, and in a way, I was just like Tupac. I was able to tell so many different stories about my life and my personality through each piece of artwork. I got through to many different people from different backgrounds and fortunately covered a lot of content in just a single painting.
No matter which medium you use, you are always able to tell a story. Whether it’s an ordinary, not-so-special method or an extravagant, eye-opening method, you can always tell a story and get through to so many people. Movies, songs, poems, novels, art, musicals, and spoken word poetry; are all the creative methods used to tell stories. But what about the small, unimportant things you do in your daily life? All the habits and quirks that you think are too below average for you to creatively tell a story? Let me tell you now that everything we do in our lives are ways to tell stories.
After moving on from high school and going into university, I felt that I needed a new outlet of creativity to tell stories. I tried to join many different creative clubs and groups on campus but nothing seemed to fit until I found seventeen creations. Making videos, filming music videos, interviewing people, making playlists are all different ways of telling stories and I'm so glad to be able to work with them and let my creative juices flow. For me, I feel like it's more about the process and the overall story rather than what medium is used. If I had to choose between painting and filming another episode of iDiatime, I would choose whichever would tell the most interesting and exciting story. There are always questions to ask, ideas to discover, and of course, stories to tell.