- Conspiracy theorists got me suspended from Twitter—and now I understand them better 5 Years Ago
- What is the Golden Company, Cersei’s new mercenary army? 5 Years Ago
- The ultimate cord-cutting guide for sports fans 5 Years Ago
- ‘Little Teeth’ is a tribute to 20-something queer growing pains Today 6:30 AM
- Here’s what’s coming to Amazon Prime in May 2019 Today 5:30 AM
- Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ is finally coming to Spotify, Apple Music Wednesday 8:48 PM
- Ubisoft is offering Assassin’s Creed Unity for free to support Notre Dame Wednesday 8:25 PM
- Are teens really eating foods with the ‘shells on’ for a new viral challenge? Wednesday 6:39 PM
- The new Samsung Galaxy Fold already seems to be falling apart Wednesday 4:17 PM
- Think the ‘Game of Thrones’ spirals are all connected? Think again Wednesday 3:13 PM
- Rudy Giuliani retweets prominent QAnon supporter Wednesday 2:03 PM
- India bans TikTok over concerns of child endangerment Wednesday 2:00 PM
- JJ Abrams says there’s more to Rey’s origin story Wednesday 1:16 PM
- Lisa Ann says Equinox trainer looked up her number and sent her a creepy text Wednesday 1:01 PM
- 8 essentials every grad needs to succeed as an adult Wednesday 1:00 PM
Now you can see how Eminem, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Kanye West stack up against Shakespeare.
Many have mused on the relationship between Shakespeare and hip-hop.
“If you look at real hip-hop, your KRS-Ones, your Chuck Ds, it’s poetry, it’s social commentary, it’s documenting history,” argued rapper Akala in 2009. “And in three or 400 years, people will probably look upon it as such. There were those who frowned upon Shakespeare’s work in his time, but it was a reflection of reality.”
Now thanks to Matt Daniels, a data scientist from New York City, there’s a much easier way to draw that comparison.
Shakespeare used a total of 28,829 unique words in his work, leading some to believe he had one of the largest vocabularies ever. Looking at the first 5,000 words of seven classic works, Daniels used a technique called token analysis to determine that the Bard used 5,170 unique words in that span.
That’s the benchmark Daniels measured rappers against, based on data provided by Rap Genius. Daniels similarly limited his research to an artist’s first 35,000 lyrics—roughly three to five studio albums (EPs and mixtapes included)—to have an even measuring stick for both veteran and emerging rappers. (Unfortunately, that means artists like Kendrick Lamar and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard didn’t have enough material to be included.)
So how does your favorite stack up? For more interactive elements, skip straight to Daniels’ original piece, but in general, indie rapper Aesop Rock—included by Reddit’s popular demand—came out ahead of even Shakespeare, with 7,392 unique words used.
Overall, Wu-Tang Clan dominated the charts.
Breaking the findings down by region, the East Coast had the highest average by far (4,804).
Surprisingly, Kanye West, 2Pac, Lil Wayne, and Snoop Dogg—four of the biggest names in rap history—fell in the bottom 20 percent.
H/T Matt Daniels | Photo of Wu-Tang Clan via Amoeba Records
Austin Powell is the managing editor of the Daily Dot. His work focuses on the intersection of entertainment and technology. He previously served as a music columnist for the Austin Chronicle and is the co-author of The Austin Chronicle Music Anthology.