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.
Science is a method for discovering truth. Science works through a circular change of theory and data. Theory is tempered and tested by data. Data inspires theory.
Theories are simply ideas, or models, of how the universe works. Scientific theories must make predictions that can be tested. Usually, we express our predictions as a hypothesis. Hypotheses are tested by data.
Scientific research is based on evidence: data. Evidence is all around us; everything we hear and feel when we listen to, or think about rap, is legitimate data. However, the best evidence does not just drop in our laps. Good evidence 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.
It is difficult to study art objectively without allowing our implicit value-judgements to shape or conclusions. All too often "intellectual" study of art is infected by value-judgements, and pretensions about what good art is, which go unacknowledged. I believe that being intellectual or scientific should not mean being a snob. On this site, we try to minimize jargon and technical language. I also try to avoid vague, esoteric, or snooty words like "sophisticated." Of course, it is ok to make value judgements and assumptions. What makes research scientific, is that we acknowledge and explicitely state our judgements and assumptions, and we attempt to objectively challenge and refute our assumpetions. A key scientific method is to try to prove ourselves wrong, not to try and prove ourselves right.