The Language Introduction

When commentators discuss language and rap music, the focus is usually on controversial words like “bitch” and variations of “nigga.” But when’s the last time anyone had a conversation about the prevalence of “I’m,” “like,” and even “you,” in the lyrics of Jay-Z?

I was surprised by some of the word usage discoveries I made during the initial text mining projects with my brother, Howard. I had not expected “like,” “I’m,” “got,” “know,” “just,” and “ain’t” to be among the most frequently uttered terms among various rappers. Our newfound awareness of the pervasiveness of these and other terms encouraged me to pay attention to seemingly inconsequential words as I listened to and analyzed the rapper’s lyrics on his first 12 solo albums.

The interactive visualizations in this section focus specifically on Jay-Z’s word usage. The charts focus on his personal pronoun usage, most frequently uttered words, and similes ranging from Reasonable Doubt to Magna Carta Holy Grail. 

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