For the uninitiated, the assumption is that rappers don't exactly have extensive vocabularies. Sure, old fogeys might say, the average rapper might be equipped with a surprising armory of synonyms for the most basic rap stereotypes--guns, jewelery, and women--but they've got nothing on the mental thesauruses of titans like Shakespeare and Melville. Right?
Wrong! The truth is very different. As hip-hop lexicographer Matt Daniels proved with his Largest Vocabulary In Hip-Hop project, the most verbose rappers dwarf the vocabularies of Shakespeare and Melville. And now beloved Brooklyn data viz house Pop Chart Labs has teamed up with Daniels to make his work available in poster form with The Hip-Hop Flow Chart: A Ranking Of Rappers By Size Of Vocabulary.
Although the original infographic had only 85 hip-hop artists, Pop Chart worked with Daniels to add 17 new rappers to the list: Sage Francis, Action Bronson, Del the Funky Homosapien, Immortal Technique, Jean Grae, Watsky, Mac Miller, Atmosphere, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Danny Brown, Jedi Mind Tricks, K-Rino, Murs, Mac Dre, Chainz, and the much requested Childish Gambino, aka Community'sDanny Glover. Along the way, rap group Insane Clown Posse and rapper Canibus were dropped, making it an even 100.
Otherwise, the methodology of Pop Chart's Hip-Hop Flow Chart uses the same methodology as Daniels's original. Sampling 35,000 words from the lyrics of each hip-hop artist--or about the equivalent of between three and five studio albums--Daniels tabulated word counts for every performer on the chart, then grouped them according to how many unique words they used total.
Like before, Aesop Rock is still the most verbose hip-hop artist out there, followed by GZA. But newcomer Jedi Mind Tricks has a well-thumbed thesaurus, it appears, clocking in around 6,336 words. And Del the Funky Homosapien is right behind at 6,135. As for poor old Donald Glover, he's apparently not as verbose as we could have wished, managing only a middling 4,465 unique words, on average. Our beloved former colleague Margaret Rhodes would weep to hear it.
Available now from Pop Chart Labs, the Hip-Hop Flow Chart can be yours starting at $23. You can buy it here.
[Image: Jay-Z via Flickr / NRK P3]