16 August 2017

Rappers more educated than pop artists?

DKE student Thomas Vrancken uses text-mining to prove that the vocabulary of rappers is significantly richer than that of pop music artists.

Emotion Mining

Sentiment Analysis and Emotion Mining have many possible commercial applications like helping customer care services and recommending products to online shoppers. In (criminal) investigations, locating emotional communication based on key words expressing anger, cursing or threats can be a good starting point to discover potential threats on time.


Surprisingly, there is a strong positive correlation between joy and sadness. Apparently, artists who sing a lot about joy also express a lot of sadness. Intuitively, these results make sense. Artists (especially pop artists) that sing a lot about happy feelings also tend to produce more melancholic songs about love and heartaches.

Conversely, most rock and rap artists reflect neither of these emotions in their songs. Less surprisingly, these results show a negative correlation between joy and anger, but a strong positive correlation between anger and fear.

Looking at that ranking for the vocabulary score, one can identify some artists that are known to be quite lyrical (e.g. Eminem, Wu-Tang Clan). They also confirm the notion that hip-hop artists in general have a quite wide vocabulary.


However, the breaking ground results came from calculating regressions and correlations between these scores. These showed that:

  • Artists who express more negative sentiments than positive also tend to be more lyrical, i.e. have a wider vocabulary
  • Artists that express joy and/or sadness tend to be less lyrical and use a much smaller vocabulary
  • Artists that use words associated with rap music are more lyrical and have a significantly richer vocabulary than artists that use words linked with pop such as Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears

These results bring statistical proof of many theories about music. For instance, that pop-artists do not bother to develop rich lyrics, whereas hip-hop artists do.