Rap as an art form is often subject to snobbery, with people presuming it's far less richly intellectual than other verse forms or canonical literature.

Enter Matt Daniels, data cruncher and legend, with a Polygraph visual essay exploring how varied and extensive a rap artist's vocabulary can be.

Shakespeare, he points out, uses nearly 30,000 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000. That's an enormous vocabulary.

Daniels decided to compare this to the vocabulary of some of hip hop's most famous acts.

Kanye West on stage Picture: Getty

He analysed the first 35,000 words from 85 different artists' lyrics - the first 35,000 of their career, so that rappers who have been around for decades wouldn't have an advantage over newer acts with just a few records to their name - and compared the unique word count to the first 35,000 of Herman Melville's Moby Dick, as well as 35,000 words across various Shakespeare plays.

The results, as well as his interactive data presentation, are truly incredible.

His chart differentiates between unique word use, geographical origins of rappers and where they rank in comparison to Shakespeare and Herman Melville.

While Daniels examined 85 different acts, we at indy100 have included a range from highest to lowest, focussing on the more well known artists, including Shakespeare and Herman Melville for comparison.

The most extensive vocabulary belonged to the legendary Aesop Rock, a.k.a. Ian Matthias Bavitz of Portland, Oregon, who with 7,392 came far ahead of Herman Melville at 6,022.

But Daniels's research showed that 15 other artists employed a higher number of unique words than Shakespeare, including Moby Dick and Outkast.

The Beastie Boys came in just behind Shakespeare, with 5,090 unique words to the Bard's 5,170.

Jay Z narrowly beat Eminem at the midway mark, with 4,506 to Slim Shady's 4,494.

Kanye West pulled in a low of 3,982 - presumably because most of his lyrics are third-person references to himself.

50 Cent and Drake went almost head to head down at the bottom, but nobody could compete with poor DMX, whose woeful 3,214 saw him take the bottom spot.

Although that's still a higher number than viewers of his reality TV series.

Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)