Aesop Rock is the top rapper of all time.
At least, in his total use of vocabulary.
I was blown away last night as I settled in to watch Jack return in 24: Live Another Day to see this post on Mashable, which showcased an analytical breakdown of some of the top hip hop artists of all time & their linguistic capabilities. The article, published by Matt Daniels, looks at the number of unique words used by rap’s greats within their first 35,000 lyrics, and compares them not only to each other’s work, but to that of such renowned pens as William Shakespeare & Herman Melville.
Aesop Rock, an underground favorite, blows away the rest of the pack (including Shakespeare and Melville) with a whopping 7392 unique words. The Wu-Tang Clan’s numbers, as a combined group, were also quite impressive. Just take a look at this breakdown by group member:
Unsurprisingly, 2pac, possibly one of my all-time favorites, ranked fairly low on the list (along with other west coast rappers like Snoop & Too Short), while Eminem ranked somewhere in the middle (but still behind Shakespeare). Also not shocking– Canadian rapper Drake, whose seen much success as of late, ranks close to the bottom of the list. The rapper with the lowest overall vocabulary was DMX, another old school favorite of mine that I couldn’t imagine ranking much higher.
I urge you to check out the entire article here, as there is far more insight than what appears in this post, along with the fully-interactive chart to play around with.