Hip-hop has always been a contentious conversation, an everlasting discussion of GOATs and WOATs, Ws and Ls. Taste is just opinion in practice, to be sure; but underneath all the lip-flapping and one-upping, there’s gotta be more than hot air. In an era where fact checkers can veto the bullshit with a quick Google search, you can’t just speak on how you feel – you have to back it up.
Numbers don’t lie, and Liban Ali Yusuf’s got the data. As a graduate student studying computational linguistics, the 24-year-old Waterloo, Canada native runs the website RapMetrics, a statistical take on hip-hop’s most persistent debates. It turns out that certain lyrical factors are measurable – so does that mean certain criticisms are incontrovertible?
RESPECT. sat down with hip-hop’s Malcolm Gladwell to find out what linguistics can teach us about rap, and what that says about Drake’s self-obsession.
I said some insightful stuff here and the interviewer Nick Harwood is a super cool dude and was very nice to talk to. Please read if you 1) Love RapMetrics or 2) Hate RapMetrics or 3) Don’t really have an opinion and don’t care about RapMetrics.