Shara Taylor

M.S. Data Science

Mic Check: The Evolution of Lyricism in Hip-Hop

Since its inception in the South Bronx in 1973, Hip-Hop has grown into one of the most widespread cultures around the world. The four original elements of Hip-Hop—DJ’ing, MC’ing (rapping), breakdancing, and graffiti—form the foundation for what the Hip-Hop lifestyle entails. Rapping quickly becomes the predominant expressive form of the culture. Over its first 50 years, rap has introduced the world to some of the most gifted songwriters in history. Rappers are judged based on their lyrical prowess. This includes flow, cadence, vocabulary, rhyme schemes, similes, metaphors, and other literary devices. This study will examine the lyrical complexities and content presented by selected rappers over the first 50 years of the genre’s existence. How have lyrics changed over time? What have been the most common topics among these selected rappers? How do topics differ by gender, region, and decade?