“I’ll teach you how to flow,” Antonio tells Sebastian in The Tempest.
Almost as long as hip-hop has existed, scholars both professional and less so have made efforts to compare its lyrics to the work of Shakespeare. The Folger Shakespeare Library offered a lesson, “M.C. Shakespeare,” that asked students to find comparisons between the rhymes of both Bard and Busta, and the British rapper Akala recently gave a TED talk titled “Hip-Hop and Shakespeare?”
The question mark in the title wasn’t strictly necessary; the lines connecting the poet of the 16th and 17th centuries to those of the 20th and 21st are clear. But that doesn’t make the efforts to tease out those lines of connection any less compelling. And now there’s a new entry in that canon—one that comes courtesy of the data scientist Matt Daniels, working with that rich gift, Rap Genius.
Daniels (you may remember him from such dataviz projects as “Outkast, in graphs and charts”) used Rap Genius data—current as of 2012—to compare the vocabularies of artists like Jay Z, GZA, and Kanye to that of Shakespeare.
Read more. [Image: Matt Daniels]
May 5, 2014