by Patrick Ilagan . August 7th, 2014
For most people, rappers are easily dismissed as a bunch of people who do not have an extensive amount of vocabulary since most people think that their songs are about getting money, fame and women. Some would say that they would easily be squashed by the literary greats if they were to go toe to toe in a rap battle.
But contrary to these assumptions, there are many of these rappers who do have an extensive library of words despite of their reckless, high-rolling rugged exteriors. This has been proven by Matt Daniel whose a designer, coder and data scientist in his project The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop which was later turned into a poster by Pop Chart Lab.
With a whooping 28, 829 words across Shakespeare’s whole body of work easily suggests that the English poet knows over 100,000 words which can be easily considered the largest vocabulary known. This has prompted Daniel to create a study to compare this data against various rappers and find out who has the largest vocabulary in hip hop.
By limiting to first 35,000 lyrics and using token analysis to determine each artist’s vocabulary, Daniel was able to create a data determining each artist’s vocabulary which he later turned into a data visualization. His analysis not only gave a different view about rappers but he was also able to spark a good amount discussion among the fans of hip hop.
The poster easily summarizes Daniel’s still-ongoing study on the verbosity of these rappers. Looking at the poster one can quickly notice that Aesop Rock has the largest vocabulary with 7,392. He easily trumps against all the other rappers in the poster and not to mention Shakespeare’s plays which at 5,170 and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick at 6,022.
The poster also shows each rapper’s origin, whether they are from the East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Southern and International. While there are no solid evidence that geographical origins may have influenced these artists, one can see that many of the verbose rappers often come from the East Coast.
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Patrick Jude Ilagan is a graphic designer/photographer hailing from the vast jungles of urban Manila. Always on the look out for visually appealing stuff he scours the internet and the bustling city in search of inspiration. His tools for mass creation is a Canon 500D along with a wide array of lights and lenses plus a 4 year old (but still fighting) laptop. Check out his work on Tumblr.
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