Monday, May 5, 2014

How Do Hip-Hop Artists Stack up Against The Bard?

Posted By on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 10:23 AM

  • Matt Daniels

Kanye West might call himself a genius, but his vocabulary's a little slim. In his first 35,000 lyrics, he used 3,982 unique words. That places West, a man notorious for self-affirming his own genius, in the bottom 20 percent of 85 rap and hip-hop artists statistically analyzed by data scientist Matt Daniels.

For context, The Bard used 5,170 unique words in seven of his most famous works. Melville's Moby Dick used 6,022. Rapper Aesop Rock used a staggering 7,391.

Daniels' project, The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop, used token analysis based on the first 35,000 lyrics of an artist's career to determine artists' lexical range. Then he attached the data to an interactive map. According to Daniels, some big-name rappers didn't make the cut: It takes most rappers three to five studio albums to belt out 35,000 words, and folks like Biggie Smalls and Kendrick Lamar never made enough music to be included in Daniels' list.

There are some surprises on the list, notably Wu Tang Clan. The 10-member rap group's members individually scored well, with GZA making No. 2 on Daniels' list at 6,426 unique words in his solo career alone. Way down at the bottom is DMX, who used just 3,214 unique words.

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