A Study Identifies Words That Make Each MC Unique. Here’s What Defines Some Of The Best.

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Hi. We recently created AFH TV, Ambrosia For Heads’ streaming video service, because we believe real Hip-Hop deserves its own dedicated TV home. But, there are doubters, so, we need your help. If you have enjoyed anything on AFH over the last 7 years, we are asking you to subscribe to AFH TV. It is only $1.99/month or $12/year, and already features some amazing content, but the best is yet to come. Thank you for all of your support.

In 2014, data scientist Matt Daniels released a comprehensive study that stirred up intense discourse in the Hip-Hop community. The analysis dissected over 35,000 lyrics to determine which MCs had the most extensive vocabularies in their rhymes. Now, Daniels has returned with another deep dive into Hip-Hop linguistics, and this time has taken an intensive look at the similarities of rappers, based on their use of words, the rate at which certain words appear in Rap music, generally, and more. Perhaps one of the most unique byproducts of the report, however, is his discovery of the words that are core to each artist and which, essentially, define those MCs.

In putting together his study, Daniels looked at “26 million words from the lyrics of the top 500 charting artists on Billboard’s Rap Chart (about 50,000 songs).” After determining words that were core to the genre, Daniels and has team set about looking at words that were central to specific artists. In detailing his methodology, Daniels explained that they went deeper than looking at slang and words that were common to most rappers. “Just about every artist uses the word ‘police,’ N.W.A just says it more often. Let’s see if we can define ‘central’ more specifically with words that N.W.A basically owns,” says Daniels, as an example. He then uses the word “Compton” to further illustrate his point. “About 75% of the artists in our Hip-Hop dataset never use this word – it’s rare. That’s a great signal: for the artists who do say ‘Compton,’ it very much characterizes their lyrics.”

With that in mind, we thought it would be cool to look at the defining words of some of Ambrosia For Heads’ readers’ favorite MCs:

rakim
Rakim

1. Causalties
2. Melody
3. Eager
4. Tug
5. Emcees
6. Technique
7. Pep
8. Tempo
9. Emcee
10. Secure

andre-3000
OutKast

1. Git
2. Dungeon
3. Trillion
4. Decatur
5. Valentine
6. Doo
7. Vogues
8. Jah
9. Ja
10. Baghdad

mos-def
Mos Def (nka Yasiin Bey)

1. Simmer
2. Unite
3. Brighter
4. Fantastic
5. Katrina
6. Universal
7. Mathematics
8. Brooklyn
9. Allah
10. Stuy

biggie
The Notorious B.I.G.

1. Clicks
2. Stuy
3. Juggle
4. Hookers
5. Dons
6. Poppa
7. Skins
8. Brooklyn
9. Downfall
10. Lounging

the-roots
The Roots

1. Treatment
2. Popcorn
3. Champions
4. Dynasty
5. Grits
6. Straighten
7. Mellow
8. Getters
9. Capped
10. Treating

em
Eminem

1. Marshall
2. Cinderella
3. Aftermath
4. Trailer
5. Spaghetti
6. Shady
7. Phenomenon
8. Chainsaw
9. Relapse
10. Bizarre

redman
Redman

1. Noble
2. Dah
3. Muh
4. Doc
5. Stanking
6. F*cka
7. Reggie
8. Rite
9. Lah
10. Ayo

Tupac
Tupac

1. Outlaw
2. Shakur
3. Makaveli
4. Soulja
5. Trading
6. Scandalous
7. Untouchable
8. Watcha
9. Immortal
10. Figure

jay-z
JAY-Z

1. Hov
2. Jigga
3. Roc
4. Hova
5. Shawn
6. Dynasty
7. Stuy
8. Reminder
9. Blueprint
10. NYC

nas
Nas

1. Papes
2. Firm
3. Oo
4. Lye
5. Tradition
6. Phillies
7. Lii
8. Premier
9. Sony
10. Prisoners

For a look at the central words that define all 500 MCs Daniels examined, read his entire interactive study here.