Who has the largest vocabulary in music? According to a study, rappers do. And Eminem is at the top of it all.
So, what's this study? Well, Musixmatch engineer Varun Jewalikar and intern Nishant Verma teamed up to research chart-topping acts and their vocabs. Their June findings have been recently picking up traction around the web, showing that Em is not just a "Rap God" but a "Vocab God" at the top of their list, which spans 93 musicians across several genres.
Jay Z, Tupac, Kanye West and Bob Dylan round out the top 5, in that order. But how did they come up with all of this info? MTV News spoke with Jewalikar about the study and their process. Here's how it all unfolded:
Here's How It Was DoneGetty Images
“The first task was to find a list of musicians which was covering a good cross section of popular musicians,” Varun said in a statement to MTV News. "This list also had to be small enough for the analysis to be easy to understand by quickly reading through it.
"We then used our amazing database of lyrics at Musixmatch and our technical expertise to gather the lyrics of the 100 densest songs for each of those artist," he added. "We did some simple natural language processing to determine the vocabulary size and designed some charts/eye candy for easily visualizing this info."
There Were Some LimitationsApple Music
The list doesn't include all artists. You'll recall, for example, that Aesop Rock had the largest vocabulary in a similar study conducted solely of rappers. That work influenced this study, however, the Bazooka Tooth MC isn't on this list.
That's because this one only features 93 of the acts listed on this Wikipedia page of "best-selling" musicians. Still, they believe the list is large enough to assess things correctly.
Here's The Motivation Behind The ProjectYouTube
The study had different aims, according to Varun.
"With this study we aimed to gleam some light on how songwriters vary their vocabulary in different genres and situations," Jewalikar explained. "There have not been any widely publicized lyrical comparisons of artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Kanye West, Celine Dion and Kiss.
"Vocabulary size is a quite easy to understand metric for comparing such varied songwriters," he continued. "Musixmatch wants to be at the forefront of research and development related to lyrics and music. We want to show to the people and other researchers what can be done with lyrics analysis.
"As an afterthought, from all the comments in various sources, we have observed there is a lot of irrational bias in listener's minds [like] 'hip-hop is stupid,' 'Kanye West is a hack,' etcetera. This kind of a study lays down some facts and opens a debate," he added. "I imagine some readers would've gone beyond their biases and listened to music which they would have otherwise avoided. I personally got to listen to a lot of new artists while doing the analysis."
Here's What The Findings ShowGetty Images
After analyzing the findings, Varun discovered some interesting information about songwriting.
"It clearly shows that these songwriters have immense control over their creative process," he explained. "The same songwriter could invoke complex feelings with simple words or use complicated words to convey simple ideas. It is a matter of what kind of emotion, ambience and imagery they want to invoke.
"It proves that there is no correlation between vocabulary size and album sales/popularity," he added. "It doesn't suggest in any way or form that any one of those artists is better than another. All of those musicians are amazing in their own way."
Max Ciociola, CEO & Founder of Musixmatch, also discussed the study with MTV News.
“At Musixmatch we wanted to not only build the world’s largest lyrics catalog, but also to show how important the lyricist and songwriters are as an influence on listening behaviors and music sales," he said. "Lyrics are about language and vocabulary, at Musixmatch we want to showcase these everywhere."