The Pudding ranked rappers by the unique words used in their lyrics. For someone with a masters degree in English literature, who still can’t fathom how Shakespeare and John Milton ended up using so many words to express their art… this research by the Pudding literally (no pun intended) blew me away!
Here are some of the most sequipedalian rappers of all time!
#1 – Aesop Rock
When I first published this analysis, I excluded Aesop Rock, figuring he was too obscure. The Reddit hip-hop community was in an uproar, claiming that Aesop would absolutely be #1. Sure enough, Aesop Rock is well above every artist in the dataset, and I was obliged to add him to the chart.
#2 – Busdriver
For the most recent update, I pored over requests from readers, and Busdriver was most common on folks’ wishlists. He and Aesop Rock are the only rappers with more than 7,000 unique words in their first 35,000 lyrics.
#4, #5, #7, #10, #15, and #20 – Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit
Wu-Tang Clan at #5 is impressive given that 10 members, with vastly different styles, equally contribute lyrics. Add the fact that GZA, Ghostface, Raekwon, and Method Man’s solo works are also in the top 20 – notably, GZA is at #4.
#28, #54 – Outkast and E-40
Of course E-40 is in the top 20%; he’s considered to be the inventor of many slang terms. Just a few that he’s been responsible for coining or popularizing: “all good,” “pop ya collar,” “shizzle,” and “you feel me.”
Outkast’s expansive vocabulary is definitely a function of their style: frequent use of portmanteaus (for example, “ATLiens,” “Stankonia”), southern drawl (for example, “nahmsayin,” “ery’day”), and made-up slang (for example, “flawsky-wawsky”).
#49 and #59 – Busta Rhymes and TwistaThe Largest Vocabulary In Hip Hop
Since both rappers are known for their speed, it’s nice to see that their verses are just as lyrically diverse as their peers’.
And while you’re at it, check out this cool infographic for detailed insight on the number of unique words used within an artist’s first 35,000 words!