DallasPenn: Rap Nerds Unite!

 |  May 18, 2010
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A few years back as I chilled in the crib of my homey Tahir he asked me how did I think rap songs could be quantified for their level of craftsmanship. Firstly, rap is all about the word. Fux a flow, swag or anything else that doesn’t deal with the word first and foremost. If a rapper doesn’t have the mastery and command of an extensive vocabulary they aren’t going to be a great emcee. We all know that Rakim is considered one of Hip-Hop’s G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) rappers, but why does he have that distinction while you will hardly ever hear someone give that distinction to 50 Cent?

Tahir took the time to create a database that hosts 50K songs so that you can do the empirical investigation for yourself and see why Rakim, KRS, or whoever you choose is a master lyricist. The Hip-Hop Word Count is the first scholarly attempt at analyzing rap music. You can create graphs and charts from the databases info that expand your knowledge of rap music and the periphery info that the culture contains. Think about doing an actual statistical analysis of Jay-Z compared to Ice Cube, or Eminem?

Start yourself off with the Jay-Z Rap Data Pack. This is the collection of Jay’s entire catalog along with the word counts of each song and all of their relatable information. This is the most comprehensive study you will ever find on rap music. If you really love Hip-Hop this will give you hours of enjoyment as you study the lyrical component of the culture. Will Jay-Z still be considered a G.O.A.T. candidate after you analyze his rhymes? That all depends on what you value in your emcees.

Rap nerdism is the new Star Trek fanboy occupation.

Beam up with the Hip-Hop Word Count.

  • http://twitter.com/russthebus575 Russ the Bus

    While i completely agree with the premise (mastery of words and vocabulary as the ultimate standard/basis of rap music), the execution is difficult to accept, and may ring hollow to many.
    Music is art. what draws the mind toward pieces of art is the combination of elements that coalesce to a singular whole that creates, within the mind of the observer, a complete reality that is no longer recognizable as the elements that originally composed it. This is sublimation, it is the pinnacle of aesthetic judgment.
    It is absolutely true that Rakim's mastery of wordplay and the execution of his vocabulary are at least as significant in his creation of sublime music as are his timing, cadence and vocal tone. It is the former that make his music more sublime and truly more beautiful than that of, say, Busta Rhymes whose physical talents as a rapper (energy, vocal agility, precision and tone) are arguably much greater.
    But the fact remains that it is not the wordsmithing alone that draws people to the likes of Rakim, it's the sublimation, the beauty of his works as a whole. This beauty is recognized by the mind on a subconscious level, clearly not the same level on which one recognizes statistics.
    I'm not saying this exercise misses the point. just that it's counter-intuitive, but that oddness may in fact be its greatest strength. Maybe we as rap consumers have become to accustomed to just listening to the song as a whole, and judging how it makes us feel. It's this sort of interpretation that makes the black eyed peas popular. It's the philosophers' job to demonstrate the priority of wordsmithing over vocal flow and sonic stimulus. Only then will the word count project be recognized for the futuristic genius it is.

  • http://dallaspenn.com/weblog Dallas

    Agreed and accepted