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News October 27, 2015

Study: Eminem, Jay Z, have wider vocabularies than Dylan

Study: Eminem, Jay Z, have wider vocabularies than Dylan

“How can I be better than you at making records, at punchlines, metaphors, wordplay, syllables?" went a Notorious B.I.G/ Tupac live freestyle in 1999. The question is answered in a new study, which shows that hip hop artists have wider vocabularies than Bob Dylan.

To put it to the test, Musixmatch compiled the 100 most linguistically dense songs of the top 93-selling artists ever. They then compared the word count of these songs by their unique word use, the total number of words used and how often they used a new word.

Eminem comes out on top, with a phenomenal word count of 8,818 separate words. Why not? The Real Shady Slim was the man who threw in “Mekhi Phifer” (the US actress) because it rhymed with “diaper” and “pied piper” on Lose Yourself. Or, when he was attacked for using ghetto language that offended the ears of suburban Americans, sighed, “Just look at me like I’m your closest pal/ The poster child, the motherfuckin’ spokesman now, for White America.”

The other top four artists in the Musixmatch list are JayZ (6,899 words), Tupac Shakur (6,569 words), Kanye West (5,069) and Bob Dylan (4,883 words) who made it just before Black Eyed Peas (4,539). Dylan tops the list as the one who uses a new word in his songs most frequently, an average of one every nine words.

It’s hard to believe that Celine Dion made it to #11 on the list (3,954) beating Prince (3,906). Not even the verbose Bohemian Rhapsody failed to bring Queen up past 2,668 or John Lennon’s love for surrealism to push The Beatles beyond (1,872) which ranked them at #76 on the list. Bruce Springsteen, The Beach Boys and The Doors would have done well but they don’t allow Musixmatch to use their lyrics so they were left out of the survey.

The average word count is 2,667. Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Neil Diamond are below that. Right at the bottom at #93 was jazz instrumentalist, saxplayer Kenny G, with 808 words.

MusixMatch summarise it best: “This analysis should not be interpreted as saying that one musician is better than the other, it is just another insight into the work of these amazing artists. It gives us a peek into the minds of different songwriters, some tear your heart with just a few words while others paint an intricate picture with a thousand words.”


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