Datamining Hip-Hop’s History

Duncan Geere reports for Wired :

An artist named Tahir Hemphill wants to datamine 30 years of hip-hop lyrics to provide a searchable index of the genre’s lexicon.

The project analyzes the lyrics of over 40,000 songs for metaphors, similes, cultural references, phrases, memes and socio-political ideas. For each, it registers a date and a geographical location. Hemphill has raised more than $8,000 in funding for the project on Kickstarter, from 349 people.

The idea is so that important questions can be answered, like who was the first to mention “haters,” or which is the most popular champagne/sneakers/porn star to rap about? The database can also be used to determine the answers to more complex questions, such as which rapper has the smartest songs, or which city spawns the most monosyllabic rap?

Hemphill says on the Kickstarter page: “The idea to build the Hip-Hop Word Count came out of having hundreds of heated & passionate discussions. Tired of having the answers left up to conjecture or whoever had the loudest voice, I decided to build a tool that would help give answers by charting the culture described within Hip-Hop music.”

He’s already put together a proof-of-concept prototype, a “Rap Data Pack” for Jay Z. He’s also started releasing visualisations of the careers of different artists…

For more information, see original article.

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