Hip Hop Word Count: Linguistic Researcher Tahir Hemphill Talks Data And Lossless Communication

Hip Hop Word Count: Linguistic Researcher Tahir Hemphill Talks Data And Lossless Communication

PSFK talks to Tahir Hemphill, a creative strategist working to understand the development of language and linguistics in contemporary lyrics.

Kyle Studstill
  • 7 june 2010

Hip Hop Word Count is a project working to understand the development of language and linguistics in contemporary lyrics. The project uses a series of rubrics and linguistic algorithms to determine the education level needed to understand various rhymes, employing analytics of metaphors, similes, cultural references and other measures of sophistication. Hip Hop Word Count is being developed at Eyebeam by resident artist Tahir Hemphill, who shares his insights with us below:

What projects or ideas are currently inspiring your work?

I have been focused on the Organic Mechanics: cognition through distributed knowledge, data visualization of complex data sets, open source, real-time data feeds, cultures of recession, sentiment tracking, theoretical physics, quantitative & qualitative ethnographic research, profane/profound, maths and the ubiquity of Jamaica Avenue, Nostrand Avenue & Fordham Road, stuff like that.

What has been the most surprising response to or use of the Hip-Hop Word Count?

In May I launched the first Rap Data Pack™. It includes the raw data from Jay-Z’s complete body of work: word count, readability, release dates, geo codes, etc… I uploaded the file to both Google Spreadsheet & Many Eyes and allowed public access. This open source approach to giving away for free something I spent many hours of labor making is antithetical to my advertising background and definitely an influence of the Eyebeam philosophy, where I currently have an artist residency.

And the response has been incredible, at last count 2,500+ people have accessed/downloaded the Rap Data Pack™. I’ve received quite a few mentions from data visualization artists, academics and Hip-Hop enthusiasts who I’ve been wanting to collaborate with, Harvard’s Hip-Hop Archive being one of them. The Hip-Hop Word Count Kickstarter project page is also seeing some interest. So I’ll be releasing a new Rap Data Pack every month until Labor Day.

What is something you look forward to being able to accomplish with emerging technologies?

I’m looking forward to seeing this semantic web stuff in action. The definition covers a lot, but for the most part it has to do with declaring what is being described in HTML. I’m excited about the microformat approach especially after seeing its role in HTML5 and the speculated effect it will have on Flash.

What is your insight on how technology is shaping the study of linguistics and its applications?

From the LOL-speak of instant messaging and txt msg abbreviations to micro blogging, these technologies have forced many people to economize their words and organize their thoughts for optimum lossless communication. This new brevity leaves a lot of gaps to be filled in and I believe those involved are moving toward telepathy. Saying is as doing says.

I am very excited about using computational linguistics dictionaries and Google’s Prediction API for the semantic phase of the Hip-Hop Word Count.

Thanks Tahir!

Hip Hop Word Count

Rap Data Pack


Lyft Gives Free Rides To Those Who Have Had Too Much To Drink

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

Outdoor Camp Presented In 360° VR By X Games Gold Medalist

The video features campers riding BMX trails, zip lining through the woods, and performing big-air jumps

Travel Today

Boeing Wants Passengers To Control Their In-Flight Experience Through Their Phones

The airline manufacturer is embracing automation through a new generation of mobile travel apps


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Augmented / Virtual Reality Today

VR Surgery Videos Offer Interactive Medical Education

Dutch startup MDLinking hopes to globalize communication between students and medical care professionals with virtual reality content

Culture Today

Use Twitter To Learn A New Language

tDict is an app that uses the social media platform to help you search for words in local dialects

Mobile Today

This Startup Wants To Digitize The Loose Coins In Your Pocket

CoinOut is a new app that lets you save your extra change from cash transactions as electronic funds

Advertising Today

McDonald’s Is Accepting Trash As Currency In Exchange For Burgers

An initiative in Stockholm is trying to keep streets clean while satisfying hunger

Culture Today

Google Is Using Virtual Paper Airplanes To Bring People Closer Together

The tech giant released an app that lets people throw their good wishes out into the world on the International Day of Peace


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed september 23, 2016

Productivity Expert: The Magic Of The Five-Hour Workday

Stephan Aarstol, Founder of Tower Paddle Boards, explains why the modern notion of office hours needs to evolve

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Advertising Today

Get Paid For Traveling In San Francisco After Rush Hour

BART Perks rewards commuters who take early or late trains by giving them extra points to trade for money

Culture Today

Artist Designs Covers For Books That Don’t Exist

Published by the fictional 'Specious Books,' the subversive works facilitate a conversation regarding the artistic integrity of graphic designers

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Food Today

Bringing Food Innovation To America’s Crowded Milk Market

a2 Milk's Blake Waltrip, Chief Executive of the USA region, discusses how the distributor plans on bringing the popular drink for the dairy-sensitive to the States


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Design & Architecture Today

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

Augmented / Virtual Reality Today

NBC Is Planning To Stream The Presidential Debates In Virtual Reality

Partnering with AltspaceVR, the broadcaster offers another way for Americans to engage with the election season

No search results found.