Style’s P’s Style Broken Down

Styles P is amazing.  Rhyming-wise he’s unimpressive.  His word dexterity isn’t special.   Overall, he doesn’t stand out statistically.  But in terms of distilling street knowledge to nerds like me, he’s the man.  One thing I’ve come away from listening to him and other similar rappers is the way that they purposely make the 2nd line in a rhyming couplet larger than the line before it.  For example, take the first bar from Get Paid off of A Gangster and a Gentleman:

I told you I ball for dope (7 syllables)
I'm in a Caucasian Jag wit a bag knockin Hall & Oates (15 syllables)


Since these are the first bars in the song, Styles P comes into the beat late so he can maintain beat and spit this almost continuously without losing meter.   It’s pretty clever how he is able to have such a disparity in line length and still maintain flow.  I’m not a rapper so the actual execution of this is hard to explain.  He maintains the same kind of style in the first 16 of that track:

and I told you I bust my steel (8 syllables)
I stay cuffed in the bullpen like P you bout to fuck up your deal (16 syllables)
but I told you I make my bail (8 syllables)
I'm at home in the alcohol bath tryin to shake the jail (15 syllables)


We want to see, in lines that are rhyming couplets what does the profile of line length look like.  To measure this, 3 different metrics are used.

End Pairs Grown: Percentage of rhyming couplets in which the second line is more than 15% longer (in syllables) than the first.

End Pairs Shrunk: Percentage of rhyming couplets in which the second line is more than 15% shorter (in syllables) than the first.

End Pairs Even: Percentage of rhyming couplets in which the second line is no more than 15% longer or shorter(in syllables) than the first.

So, what dos the average rapper look like?  Something like:

End_Pairs_Grown: 27%
End_Pairs_Shrunk: 22%
End_Pairs_Even: 51%

If our theory is right and that Styles employs the style we think he does, he should have a higher % of Grown than your average rapper.  Well, does he?  Let’s take a look at his production across A Gangster and a Gentleman:

End_Pairs_Grown: 42.5%
End_Pairs_Shrunk: 22.5%
End_Pairs_Even: 35%

Success! He does have a higher % of lines where he exhibits growth.  Interesting to note that the End Pairs Grown increase is almost exclusively at the expense of the % of Even Pairs.  What does this mean?  We have no fuckin’ idea.  But it’s interesting.


One thought on “Style’s P’s Style Broken Down

  1. Wes says:

    Honestly, the second bar extension is very much the technique employed by many rappers who have extremely urban personas that need their punchlines to be carried more by the effect of the content than the line’s actual lyrical merit. I’ve noticed this before in rappers like Murda Mook, Jae Millz and anyone that really needs to cut with the ending of couplet (because there’s an audience or because its hard for you to tell a cohesive story). I think the first line is basically a throw away, usually because the imagery in the second was what really was thought/written aggressively.

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