A new study shows that Aesop Rock and several members of the Wu-Tang Clan use the highest number of unique words in their music.
Hip-hop isn't necessarily a contest to see who knows the most words, but having a large vocabulary at your disposal can certainly aide your lyricism and ability to stay fresh after bars and bars of rapping. A new study done by data scientist Matt Daniels, entitled "The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop," counts the number of unique words used in artists' first 35,000 lyrics (equivalent to about 3-5 studio albums) and ranks each artist based on how extensive their vocabulary is.
According to Daniels, the winner was underground artist Aesop Rock, with 7,392 unique words popping up among his first 35,000 (that's roughly one new word per each five words). In second was the Wu-Tang's GZA, with 6,426 words, making him one of four individual Wu-Tang members in the top ten. The top ten was rounded out by Kool Keith, Canibus, Cunninlynguists and The Roots.
Also surprising in the study was Daniels' note that Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, 2Pac and Lil Wayne appeared in the bottom 20% of the 85 artists he studied, with last place going, somewhat unsurprisingly, to DMX. Though younger artists like Kendrick Lamar didn't have enough official studio material to qualify for the study, "The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop" presents some truly interesting findings. View the whole study, complete with some fantastic infographics, here.
Which rappers do you think Daniels should have included in his study? Does having a large vocabulary even matter in hip-hop anymore? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.