Rap Genius' newest project lets you search the rise and fall of rap's favorite words
Rap Genius is no longer content to simply explain everything. The annotation site has launched Rap Stats, a kind of Google Trends for every rap song in its catalog, going back to 1988. Feed a term into Rap Stats, and you'll get a plot of how much of the rap lexicon it takes up. This will give you everything from a stark but objective history of subgenres to the unpredictable rise and fall of slang. If you're wondering about rap's most frequently cited recent president (George H.W. Bush, at his peak), American city (LA), or social network, you'll find them — that last one is Twitter with a strong showing by Instagram, though MySpace at its peak handily beats Facebook. No rapper has ever mentioned LinkedIn.
Rap Genius is playing to its strengths here, so you won't find searches for the history of poetry, rock, or inspirational speeches. You will, however, find an excellent annotated breakdown of how rap has changed since its inception, as well as some useful research on what the genre holds most dear. For anything more, you can refer to our second episode of Small Empires, following Rap Genius' quest to footnote the world.