Tahir Hemphill

Independent Scholar


2012-2013: Hiphop Archive Fellow

The Hip-Hop Word Count: Rap Research Groups

Project Description

The Hip-Hop Word Count: Rap Research Groups

The Hip Hop Word Count is a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 50,000 Hip Hop songs from 1979 to present day. The database is the heart of an online analysis tool that generates textual and quantified reports on searched phrases, syntax, memes and socio-political ideas.

The last decade was about collecting and publishing information. The next is about editing and understanding that information.

The Hip Hop Word Count locks in a time and geographic location for every metaphor, simile, cultural reference, phrase, meme and socio-political idea contained in the corpus of Hip Hop.

The Hip Hop Word Count then converts the data into visualizations that help us comprehend this vast set of cultural information. Beautiful in their complexity, the analysis of these visualizations is used to chart the migration of themes in Hip Hop, builds a geography of language and deepens our understanding of Hip Hop's influence.

Being a media artist and an independent scholar allows me to employ an irreverent tinkering towards my reverence for science and culture. My creative research practice is interdisciplinary, covering digital humanities, art, communications design, data visualization and computational linguistics.

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