Lil Wayne vs ‘Real Hip Hop’

Arguably the most popular and polarizing rap artist of this era Lil Wayne is usually the subject of much debate among hip hop fans.  His legitimacy as an artist has been in question for years, even being accused as being responsible for of the dilution of hip hop as an artform.  The most vocal of fans will claim that his music cannot be considered ‘Real’ hip hop. These fans begin by listing some of the artists they consider to be opposite Wayne and who represent the art in a purer form.  Two names that pop up on a lot of these lists are Joe Budden and Immortal Technique, two artists we’re not very impressed by here at RapMETRICS.

Take a look at their production across what I consider to be each of their best albums (Even if these albums are not their best, it still provides a baseline to draw conclusions from).

We can do some interesting grouping with this now.

  1. Joe Budden and Lil Wayne are both a tier above Immortal Tech in terms of rhyming.
  2. Joe Budden and Immortal Technique have much more content in each song (total syllables).
  3. Immortal Technique uses the longest words whereas Budden/Wayne are almost identical.
  4. Lil Wayne has the lowest Novelty Word proportion (the average amount of new words per line) whereas Immortal Tech has the highest.

We can now start to classify each of the three artists:

  • Joe Budden: Good rhymer, medium word dexterity, medium syl/word, high total syllable count.
  • Lil Wayne: Good rhymer, low word dexterity, medium syl/word, medium total syllable count.
  • Immortal Technique: Poor rhymer, high word dexterity, high syl/word, high total syllable count.

Looking just at the classifications, it doesn’t really make sense as to why Tech and Budden are considered more legitimate than Wayne.  Lil Wayne is the better rhymer, technically, than both and he is on par with Budden in terms of average syllable count per word.  What seperates Wayne from the other two?  The total amount of syllables per song, which is a measure of total content.  What is happening it seems is that fans are confusing volume with ability.  It’s not much different than low efficiancy volume scorers in basketball receiving praise for their ability to put points up even if it’s at the expense of their team’s overall offensive efficinecy (in this case, making good music).

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4 thoughts on “Lil Wayne vs ‘Real Hip Hop’

  1. chris says:

    Immortal Tech and Joe put up a lot of emotion in their music. It’s like that one basketball player who does the hustlin/ reboundin, defense, and the such. Technically their rhymes are more average than anything but they put up a lot more emotion, feelin, these things Wayne does not hold.

    • rapmetrics says:

      Sure. I just personally never felt them as artists. I gave a few reasons why I think I feel the way I do; Joe’s songs/bars are too long and I don’t dig Tech’s verbiage. I can vibe to Wayne a lot more than Joey/Immortal since it’s a much easier listen.

      If I’m going to commit myself to long content and big words, it has to be exceptional in some sort of way a la Ghostface.

  2. Matt says:

    Eh, to be fair Tech N9ne is a politician first, rapper second. He likes to act as if he’s a real rapper, but he’s just using rap as a medium to push his political agenda. Joe Budden really isn’t a true rapper either. He’s more complex due to his emotional feelings on his tracks, not his rhymes.

    As far as Lil Wayne being hip hop that’s a no brainer. He clearly is as hip hop/rap is an umbrella term that has people like Waka Flocka and A Tribe Called Quest under its name. What I would like to see is how Lil Wayne compares to the greats in rap. Big L and Big Pun would be two great ones to compare him to as he outsold both in 99 (I think) or the current rap greats (Kanye, Jay Z, Eminem and Game).

  3. ACG says:

    @Matt
    Tech N9ne is NOT a politician. He`s not involved in politics. The words you`re looking for are political or social activist, even though he hasn’t done ANY philanthropic work. He’s not charitable, he doesn’t give back to communities and he doesn’t do SHIT. Just because he says something like “I don’t like how the president runs this country, and I wanna kill babies!” does not make him any sort of activist. It just makes him a serial killer.

    Tech N9ne sucks. How can anybody take his neo-political hip hop serious with those halloween themed beats, lyrics about killing infants and all that face paint he wears? His album covers look like Mortal Kombat video game cases. Talk about consumer confusion. That’s probably where his album sales come from.

    And the fact that you mentioned Jay-Z as a great just makes me not like you, plain and simple. Go listen to Ether – Nas, I’m So Wavy – The Game and Swagger Jacker – Cam’ron. Set your eyes straight. Jay-Z just steals deceased rappers lyrics.

    Li’l Wayne is a fine rapper. He’s not lyrically impressive, but he has some nice beats. That’s why I listen to him every once in a while. But Matt, you don’t know shit about hip hop. Just leave this genre alone for a bit. Maybe re-evaluate your ideologies on the case.

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