Developing a Syll/Word Threshold

It’s been somewhat of an obsession of mine to use the analytical methods introduced in this blog to make predictive claims about certain artist types.  For this purpose, we decided to look at syllables/word as a metric to help distinguish artists.  As discussed earlier in the Canibus post, SPW does a great job of showcasing artists with complex verbiage.  There exists a large cluster of artists in the 1.2-1.3 SPW range with some underground artists having values greater than 1.35.  The question we want to answer in this simple case study is: Is SPW a stat where popularity doesn’t necassarily reflect the metric ie. Is there a threshold value that mainstream artists don’t reach??

To do this, we decided to consult our database and put the data in nice graph for everyone to follow.  Take a look:

Hmmmmm…. do you see what I see?  Because I see a definite threshold that extremely popular mainstream artists don’t seem to reach (somewhere around 1.32-1.34).  This is definitely evidence that SWP is a good indicator of popularity in extreme cases.  For example, without ever listening to a word rapped by an artists with an SWP score of 1.40, I could tell you with a high certainty that they probably aren’t mainstream.

So, record execs, if you’re listening, don’t sign a guy with an SWP of 1.35 or above.  Statistical historical precedant indicates that they probably won’t be able to reach platinum status.

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8 thoughts on “Developing a Syll/Word Threshold

  1. It would be interesting to see if syllables per word correlates with the amount of rhymes per word, and how that relates to mainstream success.

    Are some rappers just too smart to reach any sort of mainstream success? Is this definitely provable?

    Cool and thought-provoking post rapmetrics!!

  2. Hussein says:

    Andre 3000 clocked in at 1.4, right up there with Canibus and El-P, and he’s definitely been hugely successful. Though that was only up to and including Aquemini. I’m pretty sure Love Below would have a huge drop-off there, and that was his most successful. I’m really curious how Stankonia looks.. it went quadruple platinum!

  3. T says:

    I found it interesting that Big L’s SPW is so low. I’ve been listening to him a lot lately and I find his rhymes really appealing. I didn’t notice that he used so many short words, at least compared to other rappers.

    “I drive up and down Harlem blocks, iced out watch, knots in my socks, cops think I’m sellin’ rocks”

    almost all single-syllables there for example. L’s so dope.

  4. [...] Syllables Per Word – According to Liban, the average rap song has 1.2-1.3 syllables per word (SPW).  Songs that have a higher SPW metrics can sound “too sciency.” [...]

  5. [...] Forever hovers closely to the hypothesized syllable-per-word limit where the fan’s brain shuts down and stop listening or caring.  Most of the  top selling [...]

  6. [...] guys are way, way into backpacker high-syllable per word range with an average of ~1.63.  That would be higher than Aesop Rock, Immortal Technique and almost any high-syllable per word rappe….  The idea with this kind of writing is to never address any idea or concept directly but to tap [...]

  7. [...] in Readability (Gunning-Fog Index), 1.68 in average syllables per word (which is high compared to spoken standards, and not far off professional news websites),  9.81 words per sentence (which is slightly less [...]

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