Tupac: A Notch Below Technically

Full disclosure: I think Tupac is the most overrated rapper of all time.  Conceptually, I feel like everything he said was extremely linear and simple enough for mass audienced to digest but not quite interesting enough for me to ever get into.  His persona was always bigger than his music and his fans are some of the most rabid of any artist always seeking approval for his music (frankly, the fact that Universities across America are teaching courses on his lyrics doesn’t mean anything to me).   But fuck all that jazz.  My opinion doesn’t mean anything How does he stack up against the other heavy-hitters (Jay, Nas and Big) statistically?

First and foremost, he doesn’t rhyme as well.  This is a simple fact.  Not that Big/Jay/Nas are extremely similar rhyming-wise with Tupac a few steps below:

Tupac, at a rhyme density score of 0.235 is a notch below BIG, Jay and Nas who scored at 0.29, 0.30 and 0.30 respectively.  It’s apparent that:

1) The score of 0.30 (which is pretty close to the overall average of 0.28 in our database) is a pretty good baseline necessary where we can argue that technical proficiency is met.  Anything over or under by a significant amount should be carefully looked at contextually.  We can start saying Good or Bad based on the 0.28-0.30 score.

2) Tupac just isn’t that good, technically speaking.  He’s a notch below the Big 3 objectively speaking.

He had great energy on his tracks but to me his linear raps and weak rhyming make it too hard for me to ever really get into his work.   Don’t shoot the messenger!  Just link my work and help me build traffic.

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7 thoughts on “Tupac: A Notch Below Technically

  1. Beth Hart says:

    “Conceptually, I feel like everything he said was extremely linear and simple enough for mass audiences to digest but not quite interesting enough for me to ever get into.”

    Universities teaching his lyrics doesn’t impress me either. But what does impress me, Is that quite possibly every MC from Raps founding grandfather’s to today’s Artist’s put him somewhere in their top 5. Seeing as these guys know what it takes to make a great MC, it has to make you wonder why?

    It’s Tupac’s phrasing, and his ability to paint detailed picture’s of emotion, that move people that’s almost unmatched. With exception of Eminem. Ill tell you why I give Em more props in a sec.

    While Nas and Jay are busy diluting their messages in convoluted philosophical metaphors, (and I say diluting them because if people don’t understand your metaphors, the message loses emotional impact and meaning to the listener when they first hear them, and therefore defeats their purpose,) Pac was out there moving people to feel compassion, or tryna changing peoples minds and way of thinking. He was much more useful and helpful to his community than Nas and Jay have ever been. IMO Nas almost completely useless, and therefore EXTREMELY over-rated.

    Tupac was a Rapper of Raps truest form. He was about telling stories of struggles, heart break, pain, joy, partying, love etc.. to timed rhythms, in a away that made people listen, understand, and feel. Rap Changes hearts, minds, brings about awareness, it make people feel etc.. And Pac, Biggie, and Eminem, have reached more people with their stories than any other artist.

    “I see no changes, wake up in the morning and I ask myself, is life worth living, should I blast myself?
    I’m tired of bein’ poor & even worse I’m black, my stomach hurts, so I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch”

    That’s deeper and more useful than any philosophical metaphor NAS has ever spit in his life. I didn’t know anything about Pac as a person, the first time I heard him. As a young white girl living in a lower to middle class neighborhood, I had no idea why blacks joined gangs and became thugs, I never thought about it, and didn’t really care, til one day I heard Pac say

    “Now ain’t nobody tell us it was fair. No love from my daddy, cause the coward wasn’t there.
    He passed away and I didn’t cry, cause my anger, wouldn’t let me feel for a stranger
    They say I’m wrong and I’m heartless, but all along, I was lookin for a father, he was gone.
    I hung around with the Thugs, and even though they sold drugs, They showed a young brother love”

    That was sad, and moving enough to make me want to understand why so many black mother’s are single, and help to try to change it. Nas has done nothing of the sort.

    Here’s the other thing you, may not be considering. Pac could do NAS. Like Eminem and Biggie, Pac choose to Spit so that everyone understood his message, He could do Nas, or any other rapper in the game. But Nas is filing bankruptcy right now. If NAS could do Pac, trust me he’d be doing it right now. Pac had mastered every aspect of of the craft. And there are only 3 Rappers who everyone can agree has shown at some point they‘ve done that. Pac, Biggie, and Eminem.

    the only reason I give Em more story telling props than Pac, is his subject matter is broader, it transcends race and class. 2. I’ve never heard another Rap Artist use foreshadowing when telling a story until Eminem. And also his phrasing is better than Pac’s, he has the ability to make people understand an idea that isn’t new, in a new way, and make it sound fresh, using the same simple everyday vocabulary everyone else does. (ex: “They say music can alter moods and talk to you. Well can it load a gun up for you , and cock it too.” – Deep, powerful, thought provoking, and easy to understand. No one had ever put it like that before.. And no one has ever tried to shut down an artist’s freedom of expression by accusing them of influencing children to commit acts of violence, since the day he spit it..)

    It’s not easy to paint detailed pictures emotion, with a beginning middle and end, make it all rhyme and make it fit in your bars. try it sometime… You’ll have a different respect for Pac.

    But ya guess if ya can’t measure it it must not be important ay? (sorry I couldn’t resist)

    • J says:

      Beth… i respect your reasoned approach to disecting Pac’s lyrics… i’d like to hear more from you… Do you have blog?

  2. Beth Hart says:

    and P.S. nerd boy (; …Ya might not wanna tell people that you aren’t interested in what Pac had to say. Considering the subject matter he took on. It comes off quite ummmm, rather heartless.

    • rapmetrics says:

      Pac never did anything for me. It’s just my personal preference. I thought it was interesting that he tested well below the big 3 in terms of rhyme density so I decided to blog about it. These numbers just help me put some of my thoughts into context. I’m sure a million people have approached the Pac subject like you have but how many people are willing to attack it from a new, fresh angle? That’s all I’m trying to do here.

      Keep commenting! I appreciate all the feedback.

  3. BlottedGoat says:

    i am curious as to one thing, how did you determine “the rhyme density”?did you do it by taking an average of all of tupac’s songs and counting the rhymes or doing it to the most popular songs , or your favorites or what?

  4. cognautic says:

    May I ask what were his highest rhyme density songs? Or maybe the ones in the area that are considered mainstream cus this sort of mystifies me.

  5. [...] to say that Tupac is Tupac mostly for his ability to connect with fans and not necessarily for his technical rapping abilities or anything like that.  He had a energy and commitment to his ideas that probably won’t be [...]

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