Is The Wu-Tang Responsible for the Majority of New Bad Rap?

Out of all the groups that backpackers love, Wu-Tang is probably the most universally popular one.  They have a message board where a bunch of bots scrape the internet for anything related to the Wu-Tang Clan and post it for pointless discussion.  It’s a slightly more accessible version of Canibus’ old conspiracy theory/fan message board.  The kind of rap they ended up inspiring for the most part is high syllable-per-word raps by dummies that believe in conspiracy theories.

The Wu-Tang Clan had a very popular album many decades ago that remains one of the top 50 or so top selling rap albums.  It’s very different from the rest of the albums on that list, statistically.

Album SPW
Wu-Tang Forever 1.36
Don Killuminati 1.31
All Eyez On Me 1.30
Stankonia 1.29
The Art of War 1.29
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 1.28
The Eminem Show 1.28
MP Da Last Don 1.28
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 1.28
Hello Nasty 1.28
************************* *******
Black Sunday 1.23
Raising Hell 1.23
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ 1.22
To the Extreme 1.22
Nellyville 1.22
Hard Knock Life 1.21
It’s Dark and Hell is Hot 1.20
…And Then There Was X 1.20
Flesh of My Flesh 1.19
Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em 1.14

Wu-Tang 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 albums of all-time hover in a much lower syllable per word range.  MC Hammer, who is a rapper from the 80’s, had the lowest SPW album score ever recorded.

The lasting legacy of this album will be for ushering in a generation of losers who were inspired to complicate their rap writing and say nothing.

 I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies
and hypothesis can’t define how I be droppin these
mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery
Flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me

This sequence clocks in at 1.96 syllables per word.  I guess the lasting appeal is to prove to people who hate rap (racists) that rappers can say big words and shoutout the names of philosophers.

4 thoughts on “Is The Wu-Tang Responsible for the Majority of New Bad Rap?

  1. Chirayu says:

    I think that’s slightly harsh. If today’s rappers weren’t influenced by Inspectah Deck’s ability to “complicate their rap writing and say nothing”, then they easily would’ve been influenced by Rakim’s ability to do the same. Or Kool G Rap’s. Or Big Pun’s.

    What I’m getting at is that flexing has been part of hip hop music since its inception, and I think it’s harsh to credit (or rather, blame) Wu Tang Clan for the majority of new bad rap music because most of Forever was complicated nothingness. I also don’t think you’re crediting the much used new style of production RZA made popular with Forever.

  2. Unique says:

    The conclusions the author draws from the fact that “Wu-Tang Forever” has a higher syllable-per-word (SPW) ratio than other commercially successful rap albums is a bit of a stretch to say the least. The author presents a debatable, yet valid hypothesis (“the fan’s brain shuts down”) for the previous observation that mainstream artists generally do not exceed a SPW ratio of 1.30 – 1.35. However, his claims that “[t]he lasting legacy of this album will be for ushering in a generation of losers who were inspired to complicate their rap writing and say nothing” and his speculation that “the lasting appeal” of one of the most famous and critically acclaimed rap verses of the 90’s “is to prove to people who hate rap (racists) that rappers can say big words and shoutout the names of philosophers” are absolutely baseless. So much in fact, that they give the reader the impression of being contrived. This is particularly unfortunate, because this apparent bias seems to have prevented the author from further analyzing the presented data. Some interesting questions here, e.g. would be: Why did the Wu-Tang Clan and Tupac manage to achieve commercial success with (some of) their albums DESPITE the high SPW ratio (and other’s don’t)? How do other albums of these artists compare in terms of commercial success and SPW? What are other differences between the albums listed? Particularly the last question could be a starting point for further analysis as artists like the Wu-Tang Clan, Tupac, Outkast, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Lauryn Hill arguably 1. have had a higher impact on the “art of rapping” than say Hammer, Nelly and 50 Cent, and 2. received more critical acclaim.

    Wu-Tang Forever is a masterpiece that might just have gone a little over your head. Dunno what it is that you don’t like about it, but you certainly sound bitter. As much as I enjoy and appreciate your work, you don’t own hip hop! So you might as well go listen to Nelly and spare us your condescending remarks.


  3. You should graph mean album s/w and rhyme density by year for Billboard top 100 rap albums.
    *That* would be interesting.

  4. Jaden says:

    This could be the single worst article I’ve ever read

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