Welcome!

This site is dedicated to the scientific study of rap artistry. We seek to understand how and why rap works: how rap is organized and structured, and why it is so captivating to listen to. Meanwhile, we try to maintain an objective, non-judgemental, and non-pretentious perspective.

Science

Science is a method for discovering truth through a dynamic exchange between theory and data.

Theories are simply ideas about how the universe works. Scientific theories must make predictions that can be tested by comparing the predictions to real data.

Data is all around us; everything we hear and feel when we listen to, or think about rap, is legitimate data. However, the best data does not just drop in our laps; Good data should be carefully gathered and measured as objectively as possible. The main dataset used throughout this website is the Musical Corpus of Flow, a digital corpus of transcriptions of 124 rap songs. Data is used to test theories, and also inspire changes and improvements to theories.

Without pretension

We all have opinions, values, and pretensions about what "good" art is. This makes it difficult to study art objectively without allowing our implicit value-judgements to shape or conclusions. Being intellectual or scientific should not mean being a snob. On this site, we try to minimize jargon and technical language and vague, esoteric, or snooty words like "sophisticated."

It is fine to make value judgements and assumptions about art. However, in scientific research we acknowledge and explicitly state our judgements and assumptions, and we attempt to challenge and refute our own ideas. A key scientific method is to try to prove ourselves wrong, not to try and prove ourselves right.