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About this Book


by Kenton Rambsy

Published by Publishing Without Walls (PWW), Urbana, Ill., part of the Illinois Open Publishing Network​. Published as part of the AFRO Publishing Without Walls  (AFRO-PWW) series; PWW is a collaborative project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, that involves the University Library, the School of Information Sciences, the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, and the Department of African American Studies.


Please cite this book using the DOI: 10.21900/pww.2


Jay-Z is one of the most popular and prolific rap artists of all time. The Brooklyn-born rapper, known for his introspective lyrics and frequent collaborations with other rappers and producers, currently holds the record for most No. 1 albums of any solo artist. In #TheJayZMixtape, Kenton Rambsy takes us on a journey through Jay-Z’s career and sheds light on his storytelling style, extensive musical collaborations, and connection to black music history. Drawing on a rich dataset, including the lyrics from 189 songs comprising 12 solo albums, Rambsy uses computational approaches to explore Jay-Z’s musical influences and allusions to other black artists and historical figures. Rambsy’s investigation unites innovative digital humanities techniques with the tradition of African American literary analysis of major black authors, revealing new and different dimensions of Jay-Z’s body of work. Visually engaging, and full of interactive ways to explore Jay-Z’s work, #TheJayZMixtape not only delivers an analysis of Jay-Z’s music, but also makes a compelling case for Jay-Z’s place in the greater African American literary tradition.

Technical Note

The data visualizations in this book are optimized to be viewed on a desktop computer.


The #TheJayZMixtape copyright © 2018 by Kenton Rambsy. 

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