Who’s the Best Rapper Ever? Ask Hip Hop’s First Ethnographic Database

Which city has the most creative MCs? Which was the most popular champagne in Hip-Hop during 1999-2003? Which sneakers are more hip hop – Adidas or Nike? All these questions and more are being answered by linguistic researcher Tahir Hemphill, creator of Hip-Hop Word Count (HHWC), a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 40,000 Hip-Hop songs from 1979 to present day. The database is the heart of an online analysis tool that generates textual and quantified reports on searched phrases, syntax, memes and socio-political ideas.

The idea to build the HHWC came to Hemphill following hundreds of heated and passionate discussions most Hip Hop lovers have: Who was the best rapper of all time? Which rapper uses the most clever metaphors? Which city’s rap songs use the most monosyllabic words? Does living in higher altitudes create a natural proclivity for Gangster Rap?” Tired of having these answers left up to conjecture or whoever had the loudest voice, Hemphill built the HHWC as a tool to help give answers by charting the culture described within Hip-Hop music.

Read more and weigh in on who’s the greatest rapper of all time

For the digital humanists, text miners, GIS and visualization fans out there, the HHWC utilizes some the latest analytic tools like geocodes for each rapper. Seems Hemphill is finally putting true, quantifiable analytics behind the braggadocio that Hip Hop was built upon. So… who is the GREATEST rapper of all time? Weigh in here!

Learn more about the HHWC project and how you can support it at kickstarter.com.

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One response to “Who’s the Best Rapper Ever? Ask Hip Hop’s First Ethnographic Database

  1. I’m slightly bothered that NO southern rappers made it onto the list. There are some great rappers from Atlanta. But I guess everyone’s a critic.

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