Rappers With The Largest Vocabulary In Hip-Hop

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Genre: Entertainment

License: LatinAutor, LatinAutor - Warner Chappell, UMPI, UMPG Publishing, Warner Chappell, LatinAutor - SonyATV, Audiam (Publishing), ASCAP, and 9 Music Rights Societies

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Hip-Hop Universe

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Shared March 30, 2019

Rappers With The Biggest Vocabulary, Best Lyricists In Hip-Hop, Best Rap Songs.

Who has the biggest Vocabulary in Hip-Hop, let's find out. This project was originally published in 2014 and recently updated in January 2019 with newer lyrics data and 75 additional artists, including Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Migos, and 21 Savage.

It compares the number of unique words used by some of the most famous artists in hip hop (that is, an example of a quantitive view of lyricism, once proposed by Tahir Hemphill). I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. This way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, can be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.

35,000 words covers 3 to 5 studio albums and EPs. I included mixtapes if the artist was short of the 35,000 words. Quite a few rappers don’t have enough official material to be included (for example, Biggie, Chance the Rapper, Queen Latifah, and El-P).

Since the original release, there’s now a notable trend of fewer unique words among newer artists. This is easier to see in the following chart, where I highlighted each artist’s primary decade, based on album release dates for their vocabulary calculation (the first 35,000 lyrics).

Some of the newer artists wield a smaller vocabulary comparatively, but this is not because hip hop has “dumbed down.” The genre has evolved; it has moved away from complex lyricism toward elements traditionally associated with pop music: repetitive song structure and singing (Joe Carmanica recently wrote about this trend for the New York Times, arguing that it was led by Drake, who popularized the rapping-and-singing formula over the past decade).

A better benchmark for Lil Uzi Vert’s word count (2,556) might be those of pop artists, such as Beyonce (2,433 words), or even one his major influences: Marilyn Manson (2,466 words). You might even ask the question if Lil Uzi Vert and other Mumble Rappers belong into the bracket of Hip-Hop. #hiphopuniverse #hiphoprankings

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