Crap Music Is Making You Stupiderer…

iron mike

More hard evidence that rap music is making you dumber than you already were…

KING TEE from StapleCrops Studios posited a great question to me the other afternoon. He asked me if I thought that popular rap music was less intelligent now then say, 15 years ago. From the onset when I look at songs like ‘Laffy Taffy’ and acts like the Black Eyed Peas I think that this is a no-brainer question, but how do I answer this query based on empirical knowledge without any of the emotional baggage?

Very simply. I will study two factors that lend themselves to intelligent discussion, word count and number of polysyllabic words used. I think we can all agree that the breadth of someone’s vocabulary is a good measure to their relative intelligence which in turn correlates to other areas like their understanding of the world around them. Why is intelligence important you might ask? cRappers have become the de facto statesmen for a generation of people (mostly coloreds). If you are to trust these people to express your issues wouldn’t you want someone that has the most knowledge to represent you? After this exercise is complete we will know who we should listen to if anyone at all.

Let’s try an example…

D4L – ‘Laffy Taffy’
word count = 392 (including ‘dis’ 6x and ‘dat’ 5x)
polysyllabic words (3+ sylable) = 4 (longest = motherfuckin’)

BIG DADDY KANE – ‘Raw’
word count = 670
polysyllabic words (3+ sylable) = 22 (longest = tie: perpetrating, fascinating, entertaining)

O.K., that was pretty obvious from jumpstreet. Southern rap music doesn’t pretend to be any more elevated than slavespeak. Let’s go deeper into the rap music matrix to see who matches up when true lyricists are considered…

JAY-Z – ‘Can’t Knock The Hustle’
word count = 437 (barely more than ‘Laffy Taffy’)
polysyllabic words = 10 (longest = entertainment)

NAS – ‘N.Y. State Of Mind’
word count = 730
polysyllabic words = 20 (longest = tie: composition, information, investments, equivalent)

RAKIM ALLAH – ‘Microphone Fiend’
word count = 550
polysyllabic words = 40 (longest = hypochondriac)

Imagine for a moment if you will the amount of ideas that RAKIM would have conveyed if he had used as many words as NAS. It’s clearly evident the less that you know and express lyrically has an inverse relationship to your popularity. EMINEM might be the anomaly to this experiment, but I leave that for you kids to examine for yourselves.

32 Responses to “Crap Music Is Making You Stupiderer…”

  1. 911 Says:

    Comparing D4l and Kane…you might as well said you want to see them tar and feathered….you do don’t you..lol….and there a group. Rakim is an ALIEN. See Nas is better than Jay-z.

  2. Nigeria Says:

    You should definitely make this a regular feature.

    I just showed this to a Jay-Z fan.

  3. jimmy Says:

    this was always an interesting question…

    so maybe individual tracks of today are more dumbed down than even ten years ago, but in the context of their respective time periods – isn’t the amount of societal harm pop music instills, still, more or less, the same?

    to put it simply, (and from your stance against the TI’s i know you feel this way, too) pop music is garbage and lends a heavy hand in getting kids all fucked up.

    before, the pop music wouldn’t necessarily act as much as a ‘bad example’ as today’s music, but the shit on the radio was always seen as just the shit on the radio. entertainment bullshit that would keep you away from the arts and other forms of knowledge. whatever it was, it was flashy enough to appeal to the masses…

    as bad as shit is now, that’s pretty much all that’s wrong with pop music today, too.

    it’s brainless, flashy, and the norm.

  4. Amadeo Says:

    I always refer to the early 90′s a as a time when it seemed like rappers had thesaurus in the studio.

  5. Miss Ahmad Says:

    there was a rumor that Biggie could rap for three minutes without using the same words twice. I’m not familiar enough with his lyrics to know whether or not it was true, however that was a time when knowledge of the english language was a must not a plus to be a rapper.

    If Tupac were still alive he’d damn near be writing for the New York Times, or at the very least be submitting content to Dallas Penn!

  6. LM Says:

    Excellent.

  7. P-Matik Says:

    NY rap from the days of 86-89 seemed to be an exercise on Roget’s Thesaurus. You could tell who was on they job and who wasn’t.

    Example: Tragedy – “Live Motivator”

  8. trapped in ATL Says:

    This should be a regular feature on this blog.

  9. Gee Says:

    NY rap from the days of 86-89 seemed to be an exercise on Roget’s Thesaurus. You could tell who was on they job and who wasn’t.

    Absoultely! some of the shyt that these so called rappers crank out under the guise of “spittin it, telling he truth, unloading, etc…is not worth the harddrive it is pirated on.

  10. rakimfan Says:

    Brilliant analysis! Here is another interesting angle you may want to utilize next time. I look for the absence of conjunctions when rating a lyricist. If you look at a record like “Let the Rhythm Hittem” it’s as if Rakim was conscious used it minimally.

  11. Nah Right » Blog Archive » Stray Shots Says:

    [...] Crap Music Is Making You Stupiderer…  [...]

  12. Saskwatch of Digital-DJs.com Says:

    This is a funny analysis – classic – LOL. Seriously though, the graduation rate of blacks and hispanics in this country is around 50%. Obviously, there is a learning issue. When the people are who make the music are under-educated, and apparently 50% of the target fan base is under-educated, well, you end up with a Young Joc rapping about Eenie, Meenie, Miny, Mo for his hook on his new single. Its just that simple. Hell, atleast rappers from the late 80s and early 90s were intelligent enough ro know what a Theosaurus is.

  13. Nat Says:

    Wow!

  14. TM Says:

    This is a funny analysis – classic – LOL. Seriously though, the graduation rate of blacks and hispanics in this country is around 50%. Obviously, there is a learning issue. When the people are who make the music are under-educated, and apparently 50% of the target fan base is under-educated, well, you end up with a Young Joc rapping about Eenie, Meenie, Miny, Mo for his hook on his new single. Its just that simple. Hell, atleast rappers from the late 80s and early 90s were intelligent enough ro know what a Theosaurus is.

    Thesaurus: That’s a Dinosaur, right? LOL

  15. bee Says:

    I am glad that someone did this. Rap (not Hip Hop) has gotten way out of control with it simple minded ideas. Listen to Dead Prez ” Hip Hop” and it explains it all. Same material being recycled over and over again. And now we have “Snap” music. Omg I can’t take it. Black music in general has taken a turn for the worse if you look who is on top of the game right now. The educated emcee’s out there dont get the same exposure. I wonder why???? * I know why*

  16. JCizzle Says:

    Ying Yang twins are the greatest!!

  17. JCizzle Says:

    J/K :-)

  18. Tiffany Says:

    I totally agree with your post Bee. You can put R&B music in the same boat as this rap crap. Look at the so called artists at the top. It’s all garbage. Bubble gum. It’s sickening. A sista’s been buying nothing but old school.

  19. left message Says:

    I see it as supply and demand, if thats the music the people want… then thats what they get… and remember about 70 percent of the people buying rap music now days are young and not of the culture… go figure… rap has drifted from what it has become just like anything with that much fame thru that much time… baseball went on strike… and we will see what happens to rap.

  20. The Bazz Says:

    motivation for music has changed in the rap biz. when it first came out it was for the love of what they do and expresion, then it soon became for recognization… and it continues to sway away today 2006 its for money… if someone has to say the stupidest thing to sell… they will… and guess what the ones that do not… you will not hear… cause thats is not what radio plays. just like the above comment… you start many things for the love or to do it… but once money becomes involved everything changes… and believe me… right about now… hip hop sells, movies… cell phones… shoes… sports… it could probably even sell cerial… so you know the money in it is too good to let slide by…

  21. steez(lou) Says:

    if your analysis is accurate than rock music makes us even stupidererer.
    Many songs only have 150-200 words.. with none of the technical rhyming crap involved ;)

    Interesting article tho, thanks :)

  22. steez(lou) Says:

    The Jay Z song chosen was one designed and dumbed down for radio play. So of course it will have as a lil more words than Laffy Taffy. Not to mention Laffy Taffy repeats the alot of the same words and is lyrically trash.

  23. Sutter Cane Says:

    Makes no sense. Vocabulary is a terrible gauge of intelligence (do some research on social history and you’ll see). Also, you have to take into consideration the fact that hip-hop has no guidelines, with respects to lyrical content. Those tracks with mediocre lyrics are not meant to illuminate you, nor do they claim they do/want to – the artists themselves don’t even claim to be the truth. Just look at their videos. As an intelligent person, you should be able to see the obvious. They’re just meant for unadulterated, carefree entertainment. You wanna party and just get stupid? Great, put on the D4L track and party like you don’t care. You feelin pretty deep and wanna just meditate? Ok, put on some nas or whatever. The point is to have options.

    Yes, it kinda sucks that mainstream hip-hop is not what is used to be (i.e. – what it was in the early 90s), but music in general [and furthermore, specific genres...] go through phases. It’s a natural progression that reflects on the social status of the world, but more specifically, the genre itself reflects on social issues stemming out of that particular area it’s coming from.

    Back in the 90s hip-hop was great, but at the same time, a lot of it was depressing because of the ultra-realistic and deep lyrical content embedded within – intermingling with the mesmerizing melodies and hypnotic rhythms/beats. This isn’t the 90s, sorry to say, but it really isn’t. This is the 21st century, and the music reflects that. Music (or really, the Arts, in general [are.../]) is one of the most accurate ways of understanding contemporary society (or, getting a good retrospective of yesterday).

    I can still listen to some great tunes from epmd and get a really good sense of how it felt to live back then, and what we as a society, were going through back in those days. But, this is 2006 now, and I’m 23 – I can at today with different eyes and mentality. Things have noticeably changed; I can feel it, I can see, it’s everywhere.

    I can still remember when these highly-”intelligent” hip-hop tracks were coming out, so many american parents were annoyed by it. They always said how it was crap compared to “real” music (e.g. – jazz, soul, r&b, blues, etc.)

    Don’t stress so much. Like I said, music goes in phases along with society. It’ll all changed once again, as it has always done, just like a sine wave. What’s more, for those that are tired of the mainstream, there’s plenty in the underground to satisfy your hunger. For as long as I could remember, if there was a mainstream/pop polarity, there always had to be an underground/local scene in certain musical genres. Believe it or not, dancing to thoughtless music isn’t really that bad.

    My country has very strong african and indigenous influences, and a lot of our [very old] prized folk music that we pride on, basically, has repetitive drumming/[hardly any] lyrics/rhythms made just for dancing, while others are more about telling stories (all of these – attributes that were gifted to us, and cultured, by the brilliant mixing of our indigenous and african ancestors/influence; and that also includes european influence/ancestry). But this is very important to us because it tells you/ourselves the story of our culture and who we were/are. No style is better than the other, its just different.

  24. Billy Sunday Says:

    ^what the fuck is this nigga talking about?!?

    do you understand how dificult it is to construct phrases that rhyme when you use polysyllabic words. any motherfucker that watches ‘Sesame Street’ can rhyme cat with hat. your mind has to be developed to construct sentences that contain metaphors and similes while eschewing conjunctions. this post is not an old school versus new school argument because I don’t seperate Hip-Hop by decades or schools. it is meant to show you that what people are lazily describing as art is only commercial bullshiite meant to make you a dumb azz party animal that can only consume and no longer create.

    I certainly don’t seperate Hip-Hop into categories either. if you want intelligent lyrics that you could party to then Public Enemy has you covered as well as dead prez. when Hip-Hop can no longer stimulate your mind and it just becomes an exercise of mindless repitition whether it’s backing that thing up or snapping your fingers then Hip-Hop no longer serves any purpose but to make you stupid.

  25. Tomiwa Says:

    Gaddamit, what is with the fucking snap music hate? It’s dance music, stripped down dance music. The driving engine is much the same that’s driven ever Pharrell or Neptunes track and it’s not all bad. Lyrically it’s subpar, but that’s part of what makes it good dance music. Do you really want to be parsing the workings of the underworld when you’re in a club trying to get it on with the ladies?

    I think everyone is way too sore about the ascendance of snap and the like, rather than the converse and more important problem, there aren’t enough top notch MC’s making interesting music. I’m pretty certain that if you look real hard at the releases of 1994, you’ll find plenty of dumb ass shit there. It’s just that there was enough good stuff that you didn’t have to listen to it cause there was more than enough good stuff to keep you occupied. So if anything you need to be pissed off, not at musicians who make pretty effective and convincing dance music with almost nothing (snaps, drums, a chant), but at your favorite rapper who won’t make music that’s catchy and interesting enough to find some dominance. Some vitirol may also be directed at the A&R and dumb as record labels that keep interesting albums and rappers locked behind doors (that Clipse shit really is a fiasco).

    As to the central argument of the post above, while amusing, it’s ultimately dumb as hell. A lyrical analysis of five songs over 20 years does not a convincing argument make. Try this argument again with tracks from T.I, Bun-B, Kanye or Outkast and run it against some old N.W.A, KRS One or Run-DMC and see what you come up with. And no, we can’t all agree that intelligence is directly related to or expressed by breadth of vocabulary or number of multisyllabic words used. Some of the most intelligent people are careful to speak simply so the largest number of people understand them. It’s a technique I’ve tried to use in this post.

  26. dirtydope Says:

    Slavespeak??? Isn’t that what 90% of all blacks in America were only a few generations ago? My grandmother still tells stories about her grandfather who was a slave named Friday(no last name, just Friday). The southern rappers identify more with slave/emancipated share cropper culture, thus, the slavespeak.
    When I write raps one of the biggest issues I have is not going over peoples headz with the vocab and concepts.The black hip hop market is all about saying words with emotion and feeling, that’s what they relate to and enjoy the most. The white hip hop headz like intellectual talk and actually care if you’re saying something with the words. I regularly ghostwrite and work with artist developing their songs. When the white boys hit the studio they can listen to me just talk on beats working out concepts for hours telling stories and talking about life. When negroes hit the studio it’s all about “yeah, I’m feeling dat” or “you need to put more swag on dat”, rarely is a comment ever made about the words in and of themselves.
    Rap music is all about the complete presentation reaching the audience and getting the point across. Laffy Taffy may only have 392 words but you definitely “get it” the first time you hear it. Does using big words mean you’re smarter? I suppose so if your definition of intelligence is based on Americanized testing for the status quo. The Congolese speak with clicks (zero syllables) they must be the stupidest people on earth according to this standard.

  27. kay-oh Says:

    Some of the most intelligent people are careful to speak simply so the largest number of people understand them.

    I LOVE this!

    One great motto to live by for all of you “wordy” people: Less said, best said”

  28. the_dallas Says:

    One great motto to live by for all of you “wordy” people: Less said, best said”

    ^that is a motto for children and idiot retahds.

    I see that some of you need me to dumb down my posts in order for you to receive the truth in my message. Fear not non-believers, I will bring you the truth in a manner that is lucid and with such brevity that even your underdeveloped minds will be able to fully digest my inferences.

  29. jaithe Says:

    i quote run-dmc:

    dinner, you ate it there is none left
    it was salty with butter and it was def
    your proceeded to eat it cuz you was in the mood
    but homes you did not read it was a can of dog food!

    you be illin’…..

    public enemy on the other hand….they pretty rad.

  30. PUB Says:

    Great post the makes a great point, in which I agree with. This should be a regular.

  31. TheUltimate Says:

    I wish everyone from D4L to Ying Yang Twins could read this. (That is, if they can read.)

    The dumbing down of hip hop has been one of the greatest tragedies in music. And the fact that we live in a time when the average age of ppl putting out rap music these days is about 30, is sad when compared to all the 18-24 year olds dropping science in the golden era of hip hop (86-93c).

  32. Left Says:

    In the famous words of Jay-z ” Cause you don’t understand him it don’t mean that he nice/ It mean that you don’t understand all the bullshit that he write” I love Nas and Jay-z but you can’t base who is better than who on the quantity of words you have to base it on the content and quality of what they are speaking. I know this post isn’t about who is better than who but i had to address those shitting on my favorite hip hop artist.

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