Who the greatest rapper is depends on who you ask. But one thing that isn’t subjective is which rappers have the biggest vocabulary and this amazing chart shows it.
Pudding is an amazing site full of engaging and sometimes interactive articles on music from the most emo lyrics of all time, to an interactive page on how Robert Glasper sampled Miles Davis that lets you chop the samples and control the beats. They’ve looked at 85 artists to work out who is the best wordsmith.
To work it out they’ve collected the first 35,000 words each rapper has used which covers around 3-5 albums and EPs and sometimes mixtapes if the word count needed it. Collecting those words together they’ve counted the variety of words used and compared them with each other to see whose making the best use of a thesaurus or who studied Shakespeare’s 28,829 word vocabulary the most.
Most rappers sat somewhere between 4,300 and 5,000 words with famous rappers like Eminem at 4,494 unique words used and Jay-Z who has 4,506 unique words used. Using ‘token analysis’ each form of a word is counted as well, so for Jay-Z ‘pimp’, ‘pimpin’, and ‘pimps’ all count as their own individual word towards vocabulary count. It can’t have been an easy task, working through all of the slang used within hip hop as well as other hurdles that must come along with collecting 35,000 words from 85 people so the list isn’t entirely perfect but it’s an accurate representation.
Aesop Rock tops the list which, to those who know the underground rapper, is probably no surprise. The verbose rapper spits like a dictionary puking all over dark beats and he’s a clear leader with 7,392 unique words used. In second place GZA, measured only by his solo albums and not his work with the Wu, sits almost a thousand words back with 6,426 unique words. DMX sits at the bottom with 3,214 unique words used.
Check out the full breakdown and play with the graph to see who’s the most verbose, how it aligns with the region they’re from, and more and get an incredible insight into the lyrics of the world’s greatest rappers.