In today's music industry, lyrical content is usually overshadowed by the instrumentals of the song or the lyrical content is so downplayed that songs only consist of a few words. Tahir Hemphill is a designer, photographer, and an entrepreneur who is hosting a special project entitled "Hip Hop Word Count
"The Hip-Hop Word Count is a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 40,000 Hip-Hop songs from 1979 to present day.The Hip-Hop Word Count describes the technical details of most of your favorite hip-hop songs. This data can then be used to not only figure out interesting stats about the songs themselves, but also describe the culture behind the music. The Hip-Hop Word Count locks in a time and geographic location for every metaphor, simile, cultural reference, phrase, rhyme style, meme and socio-political idea used in the corpus of Hip-Hop."
His goal is to convert his findings into visuals to help us comprehend different cultures; to map a geography of language. For a visual, look at his video. Its interesting to find out what educational level the song you're listenting to is in. Are you songs smarter than a 5th grader?
The Hip-Hop Word Count x Keyword Search from Staple Crops on Vimeo.
My pal Tahir aka @tahero
(for the tweeps) has a fun project that the world should know about. Let's get it presented at SXSW. The following is all the info:
The Hip-Hop Word Count: A Searchable Rap Almanac
was accepted into the 2011 SXSW PanelPicker! Vote for it multiple times daily until August 27th; so we can present at SXSW. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/hhwcxsxsw
Also Join the Staple Crops Face Book page for updates and specials: http://bit.ly/stcrfb
The Hip-Hop Word Count is a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 40,000 Hip-Hop songs from 1979 to present day.
The Hip-Hop Word Count describes the technical details of most of your favorite hip-hop songs. This data can then be used to not only figure out interesting stats about the songs themselves, but also describe the culture behind the music.
How can analyzing lyrics teach us about our culture?
The Hip-Hop Word Count locks in a time and geographic location for every metaphor, simile, cultural reference, phrase, rhyme style, meme and socio-political idea used in the corpus of Hip-Hop.
The Hip-Hop Word Count then converts this data into explorable visualisations which help us to comprehend this vast set of cultural data.
This data can be used to chart the migration of ideas and builds a geography of language.
Before I get into the topic at hand I have to first caution you that I am in no way, shape, or form a music expert. I am just a fan of sounds who likes to watch too many documentaries on the history of music. So, feel free to disagree with anything I write because it's the American way.
Okay, now I'm ready.
Is it just me, or is hip-hop the most competitive music genre of them all? I guess I should differentiate the titles "hip-hop" and "rap" before I continue because they always seem to get mixed up. Personally, I would define rap music as a sub-genre of hip-hop. Some people have said all hip-hop is rap, but not all rap is hip-hop. Hip-hop pioneer KRS-One once said, "Rap is something you do, but hip-hop is something you live." So when I say "hip-hop" I am also referring to "rap".
Since its conception hip-hop has always had its share of conflict. Most notable are the "beefs" or grudges between artists. I would call them emcees or rappers, but then I would have to define the differences between the two because there are definitely differences
. This whole post can get off topic fast, so bear with me here.
Hip-hop artists have always tried to battle each other for the either the top spot on the charts or the top spot in the streets. You never see artists in other music genres act as hostile towards each other as hip-hop artists. Have you ever heard of diss record from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones? No. Other than the diss song that the Dixie Chicks recorded about country crooner Toby Keith I would say that most artists of other genres tend to support each other or at least tolerate each other at award shows. I will also admit that there have been rivalries in rock music between band members, but at least they keep it in the "family" and none of their grudges have ended in death
Nowadays hip-hop beefs are encouraged more than ever with lists like MTV's "Hottest MCs in the Game" pitting artists against each other by ranking the top ten rappers (in their opinion) of the year.
There are various reasons that hip-hop as a musical genre is the most competitive. These reasons include the egos of the artists, a desire for the artists to showoff their lyrical prowess, a deep dislike of other artists, and a need to separate themselves from others in the genre. For many young people music is the only way they think they can make it in the world. Who would blame them for thinking this when famous artists like T-Pain walk around wearing a dumb
$400,000 "Big Ass Chain"
. By starting beefs emerging artists are able to create a name for themselves in the industry. Starting random beefs with other artists is actually how 50 Cent got his start.
The question now is whether or not competition is healthy for the hip-hop community. A positive aspect of competition is that it forces the artist to try to better themselves lyrically in order to become more notable. However, competitiveness often takes a turn for the worse in hip-hop when it goes from the recording studio to the streets (or, the Source Awards). It would be more beneficial for hip-hop artists to support each other and work together in more ways than collaborating on a DJ Khaled record. I think that Russell Simmons had the right idea with The Hip-Hop Summit, but there is more that needs to be done. Artists need to learn that there are other ways to become successful in the music industry that do not include creating beefs with other people who are after the same goal. Starting beefs
may seem like a easy way to the top, but it won't help you stay at the top.
I'll just end this here before I get lost in my own thoughts, but I would like to pose this question to you: Do you think competition in music is healthy for the hip-hop community?
Come join Younity and friends
for some hip-hop style community building.
Fostering local economies for urban artrepreneurs with a conscious mindset,
it’s time for Younity’s 2nd annual Urban Arts Markit!
One-of-a-Kind -Limited Editions – Hand Crafted – Flavor
Curated by the infamous Toofly, and homegirl Yvey Hidalgo this open air markit pays homage to market life around the globe as a staple of community life and celebration where makers, fans, and collectors come to shop and mingle – 2010 style. Featuring live DJ sets, live painting, break dancers, vendors, Hondurian Valiadas, Empanadas, & American hot dogs, in the heart of New York City’s Lower East Side…
we’ll be in the fantastic company of some of NYC’s finest! Don’t miss this one day event.
12-6p 213 Stanton St
. F train to Delancy.