I'm Dr. Kenton Rambsy. I'm a literature professor. And, I am a Jay-Z scholar.
#TheJayZMixtape represents my on-going efforts to use metadata to explore the trajectory of Jay-Z’s musical career. Building on earlier generations of computational approaches to humanities research, I used Jay-Z as a model to structure different types of data in order to analyze his career from a digital perspective.
My older brother, Professor Howard Rambsy II, and I assembled the “Jay-Z Dataset” by drawing on a variety of sources, including Rap Genius, Who Sampled, Billboard, and Wikipedia. We also used Voyant text mining software to extract numerical data from Jay-Z’s lyrics from his 12 studio albums. Our dataset is the result of our careful considerations about the ways that combinations of data can reveal various dimensions about Jay Z’s entire body of work.
I worked with Saif Sayed to turn the dataset into info-graphics or interactive visualizations about Jay-Z’s work using Tableau Public. In particular, we thought about various ways to visualize the “Jay-Z Dataset” so that our interpretations can reach a wider audience. By visualizing information, we are encouraging readers (and listeners) to interact differently with subject materials thereby prompting them to ask different types of questions and come to different sorts of conclusions.
There have been literally hundreds of books and articles on rap music, and many colleges and universities across the country offer courses on hip hop. I’ve tried to contribute to the ongoing conversation on rap music by attending to data matters.