The NYTimes Said Nice Things About RapMetrics

Whereas “Decoded” and RapGenius at least encourage the exegesis of lyrics, elsewhere online, rap lyrics are treated more like a form of structured data. RapMetrics, for instance, is a fascinating project by a chemical-engineering student named Liban Ali Yusuf; it is both a rhyming dictionary and a source of more-provocative analytical projects. In one, Yusuf sifted through lyrics by white and black artists and generated a list of “white” words and “black” words. A few “black” words: Houston, mink, Impala. A few “white” words: rotting, nuggets, ninja (which: ugh). On the less sophisticated end of things, far away from RapMetrics (which is a truly impressive project) we have the circa 2008 meme of presenting rap lyrics in graphical form. For example, in one tongue-in-cheek graph designed to show the proportional relationship described by Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy and Ma$e on “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems,” the X axis is labeled “money” and the Y axis is labeled “problems.”


The author Will Staley (a cool dude imo) has problems with rap lyric analysis as a whole but he was pretty cool about this project.  To be fair, it does take some of the fun and mystery away from things when the internet grabs a hold of something and deconstructs it immediately without giving the thing a chance to exhale.


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