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Wired.com | Epicenter | Datamining Hip-Hop's History
By Duncan Geere
The project analyzes the lyrics of over 40,000 songs for metaphors, similes, cultural references, phrases, memes and socio-political ideas. For each, it registers a date and a geographical location. Hemphill has raised more than $8,000 in funding for the project on Kickstarter, from 349 people.
The idea is so that important questions can be answered, like who was the first to mention “haters,” or which is the most popular champagne/sneakers/porn star to rap about? The database can also be used to determine the answers to more complex questions, such as which rapper has the smartest songs, or which city spawns the most monosyllabic rap?
Hemphill says on the Kickstarter page: “The idea to build the Hip-Hop Word Count came out of having hundreds of heated & passionate discussions. Tired of having the answers left up to conjecture or whoever had the loudest voice, I decided to build a tool that would help give answers by charting the culture described within Hip-Hop music.”
“The response has been incredible,” added Hemphill. “At last count 2,500+ people have accessed/downloaded the Rap Data Pack. I’ve received quite a few mentions from data visualization artists, academics and Hip-Hop enthusiasts who I’ve been wanting to collaborate with, Harvard’s Hip-Hop Archive being one of them.”
As the project is now completely funded, any additional contributions will be used to add extra functionality to the search tool and shorten the amount of time before the data becomes available to the public.