A Lyrical Analysis of Chart Topping Rap Songs 1987-Present Part 3

To conclude this three part series, I will attempt to use the collected data to tease out some themes from each decade of rap music, and then compare the beginnings of modern rap to its incarnation in today’s popular culture. Let’s start with the 1980s, rap’s first exposure to popular culture and media attention. The two most popular words of the 1980s were “You” and “Me”. This is interesting because all other decades of rap that I analyzed had the most popular words “I” and then “You”. So what this tells me, using a social lens, is that popular rap from the 80s focused on the rapper either telling us as listeners, or people rapped about in song, what we have to do or what we should do. Keeping the social focus, I can discern that 80s rap had a certain societal focus, as in the rapper wanted to tell “you” about what was going on and what “you” can do to help. A look at the popular verbs of the 80s helps us further this conclusion. The top three verbs were “Know”, “Love”, and “Fuck”. The high usage of the verb “know” leads me to believe that there was a focus on knowledge, either of socioeconomic problems or knowledge of a rapper’s lyrical prowess or style. “Love” as in “I love…” sounds pretty interesting but in reality it might just be a more descriptive version of “I like…” because it doesn’t sound quite as good in flow. “Fuck” is an interesting verb in context of the 80s and socially aware rap, hits such as NWAs “Fuck da Police” speak to a frustration with social disparities and social problems, usually with “fuck” an exclamation of frustration and disgust with current authorities or attitudes. As far as 1980s adult or profane language goes, it is pretty tame compared to later decades of rap. The top words in this category are as follows: “Fuck”, “Horny”, “Fight”, “Shit”,  and “Nigga”. “Fuck” has already been spoken to but let’s look at the other 4. “Horny” really can’t be taken any other way than talking about sexual exploits. “Fight” is an interesting one, and again using 1980s context can speak to larger issues, such as the desire to “Fight the Power” and Public Enemy eloquently said in their hit entitled so. “Shit” is often used to describe a bad situation, for example: “I hate this shit”. Again, this can be taken as a verbalized frustration that rap in the 1980s was characterized by. “Nigga” is popular in all decades of rap, but the 1980s see this as the only variation of the word in the top 10. As in all decades of rap, “nigga” is used to refer to the rapper’s compatriots, usually in a jovial or casual manner.

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A Lyrical Analysis of Chart Topping Rap Songs 1987-Present Part 2

Before I get started with this blog post, I’d like to inform the reader that this and subsequent posts will contain prolific language used in rap vernacular and is not intended to offend any person nor group of people. The use of such language is meant to keep the original intent and message of rap artists through this research. Use of such language will only happen in reference to such word, not in the analysis as descriptors nor derogatory terms.

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Single-Sided NMR of Paint Films After Climate Cycling: Conclusion

This will be my last Monroe blog post. Fortunately, the chemistry department gave me additional funding to continue research for the remainder of the summer. But as of now, here is where my research stands:

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A Lyrical Analysis of Chart Topping Rap Songs 1987-Present

To begin this research into changing themes of popular rap music, I had to compile a usable data set. To find the songs that I would use, I used the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, and looked through the historical data. Unfortunately, the data on Billboard only goes back as far as March 11, 1989. So, starting from this date I worked forward each week, checking to see what the #1 song was each time. From there, I gathered lyrics from online sources, such as Genius, for these songs and copied those into a text file for each new entry. The text files were “scrubbed” as it were, before moving on to the next song, so I would have to make sure the text files contained only lyrics, no artist names nor “repeat” notifications allowed as to preserve the integrity of the data. I moved on from March 11, 1989 through June 10, 2017. At this point, all text files have been made for those years, and I stand to “compile” large files for each decade and 1/3 of a decade, for comparison purposes and so that running the text through the algorithm isn’t completely mindless. To find popular rap songs for 1987 and 1988 (the years Billboard does not record) I had to peruse the Internet and consult various “Top 10” lists to get a general consensus of what the 10 best songs of the year were. Now, after these mild data collection difficulties, I stand to make text files for each 1/3 decade and also each decade. From there I can feed the data into the word frequency algorithm.