Thanks to some seriously meticulous research by Matthew Daniels, a coder, designer and all-around badass in New York City, we now have some hard data as to which rappers have the largest vocabularies. Titled “The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop,” Daniels’ project ranks rappers according to how many unique words they use in the lyrics of their first 5-7 albums.
To get the raw data, he took the first 5,000 words each from seven of Shakespeare’s plays and the first 35,000 words in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and calculated the total of unique words in the sample (5,170 for Shakespeare and 6,022 for Moby Dick). Next he took the first 35,000 words from lyrics of some rappers’ first studio albums and did the same calculation.
The result? It looks to us like some of the most popular rappers may not be the lyrical geniuses you think they are. Drake, Kanye, Tupac and Lil Wayne all scored far below the legendary poet, whereas underground rappers like Aesop Rock and Blackalicious (who also has roots in the Bay) took the top spots. Also high up on the food chain is none other than Earl Stevens, or as we know him, E-40, who scored 5,207 unique words. That puts 40-water at almost 1,500 words higher than Yeezy, Snoop, and Wayne.Check out the full article here on Daniels’ site, and some of his other, equally cool studies on hip hop.