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


Dubai And The Future Of Humanitarian Design

Design & Architecture
Technology october 21, 2016

Concept Camera Designed To Only Take Unique Photos

Camera Restricta is tool that prompts photographers to only capture one-of-a-kind images

Design & Architecture october 21, 2016

Fragrance Will Release The Smell Of Data If Your Private Information Is Being Leaked

The device is designed to create a physical cue for the potential dangers lurking online


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Retail october 21, 2016

LYNK & CO Is A New Auto Brand That Promises Mobile Connectivity On Wheels

Online access and mobility sharing are driving the company to disrupt the auto industry

Related Expert

George Kvasnikov

Interface & Graphic Designer

Travel october 21, 2016

Become A Citizen Of The First Nation In Space

Asgardia is a new concept for a floating society above Earth

Entertainment october 21, 2016

Speaker Displays Song Lyrics As Music Is Played

The device is able to generate the graphics on a translucent screen and retrieve the words from a connected database

AI october 21, 2016

Travel Assistant Scans Your Emails To Make Planning Easier

This AI add-on will sync with your inbox and sends reminders to make sure you don't miss anything important


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 17, 2016

Home Depot Green Energy Expert: Americans Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Green tech expert Jennifer Tuohy discusses new home energy tech and developments for renewables in the US

PSFK Labs october 21, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Millennials october 21, 2016

FOMO Survival Kit Helps Millennials Cope With Social Anxieties

The satirical product is meant to be a playful diversion for people who feel like they are missing out

Food october 21, 2016

New York Restaurant Uses Tomato Sushi As Its Newest Meat Alternative

fresh&co is using sous vide Roma tomatoes to create a vegan option that has the texture and taste of tuna

Advertising october 21, 2016

Red Bull Converts Sao Paulo Payphones Into Data-Driven Bus Schedules

The booths allow city residents to check local transit times through a simple toll-free phone call

Work october 21, 2016

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

Retail october 21, 2016

Why Experiential Events Could Replace Trade Shows

Marketers are seeking creative and impactful new ways to connect with influencers

Children october 21, 2016

Modular Kit Teaches Kids How To Make Their Own Robots

MODI features magnetic modules and a platform for programming to encourage experimentation

Infants october 21, 2016

Work Table Doubles As A Baby Seat

Designer Kunsik Choi created the furniture to facilitate emotional communication between between parents and their children

Technology october 21, 2016

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide

No search results found.