July 23, 2015

"Eminem has the biggest vocabulary in music..."

"... beating Jay Z and Bob Dylan."
Eminem came out on top having used 8,818 different words across his work, and takes a considerable lead over second place Jay Z, who has so far used 6,899 words.

Tupac Shakur placed third with 6,596 words, Kanye West is fourth with 5,069 words, while Bob Dylan is at five with 4,883 words.

65 comments:

Char Char Binks said...

"Music is better than words."-- Seth McFarlane

SteveR said...

I am not impressed

lgv said...

Yes, but 8,312 of the words would be disqualified in a game of Scrabble.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why they would throw Bob Dylan in there.

Bob Dylan probably has less than half the words in his songs than they have. These guys spit out so many words in a song you can barely catch them as they fly towards you.

Bob Dylan has a slow singing method. His words come out slow and methodical and are often drawn out.

Anthony said...

Kenny G is last place with 809 words, 800 more than anyone remembers from his songs.

Nonapod said...

I wonder how many words are in They Might be Giants's catalog.

Xmas said...

My Favorite Eminem song! (SFW)
https://youtu.be/SW-BU6keEUw

Bill said...

Nonapod, that's an excellent question. I would think TMBG are well into the five-figure word range. Obviously, they don't count.

traditionalguy said...

And how many does The King use? Tupalow, Mississippi guys used few big words.

OK. The Time Life collectors cd's of all time best rock and roll artists said Bob Dylan is the all time greatest artist. And you get a free collectors box and free shipping and handling too... Not available in stores.

Eminen can't match that.

Mike said...

And about 1318 of Eminem's words are ones he made up.

Fernandinande said...

"Anything too stupid to be said is sung." -- Voltaire(?)

Reminds me of the guy who complained "I played every note I knew and they still booed me!"

Johanna Lapp said...

Eminem knows how to find rhymes in a rhyming dictionary. But he uses those words with no regard for what they mean in a defining dictonary.

Bad poetry is when you can tell whch word carries meaning and which was tossed n because it rhymed.

Curious George said...

I bet "axe" is one of them.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Eminem is a smart guy who has wonderful facility with language.

cubanbob said...

A lot of wasted words, since it's all crap might as well be economical and efficient with words.

J. Farmer said...

@Johanna Lapp:

"But he uses those words with no regard for what they mean in a defining dictonary."

Do you have some examples of this...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Johanna Lapp said...

...But he uses those words with no regard for what they mean in a defining dictonary.

I think you're confusing Eminem with Professor Althouse and a majority of the Supreme Court.

Bob Ellison said...

"You Are So Beautiful To Me" (Joe Cocker sings it) has only 14 unique words.

Matt said...

Interesting but unsurprising as hip-hop is lyrically denser in general.

"And about 1318 of Eminem's words are ones he made up."

Just like Shakespeare!

acm said...

Eminem isn't particularly known for making up words, is he? His best known songs don't have any made up or misused words.

I maintain that Eminem is a punk rocker who happens to rap

EMD said...

This song is just six words long.

The Godfather said...

Just because you can count something doesn't mean that the number of them is important.

Wasn't it in "Amadeus" that the Emperor complained that Mozart's music had "too many notes"?

EMD said...

Hip-hop posts bring out the ignorance, don't they?

Mike said...

Eminem isn't particularly known for making up words, is he?

Well he was using "frack" before it became popular, although it was the PG version of saying fuck in his usage, not the present contraction of hydraulic fracturing.

Julie C said...

I love Eminem. He was on 60 Minutes (I think) and did a really great rap off the top of his head to show how he writes songs. And none of the words were made up.

tim maguire said...

You don't have to like rap to recognize that Eminem is on to something. You just have to listen to a song or two with an open mind. As for "number of words," I'm not that impressed with it. As people have pointed out here, that doesn't tell you anything about the song's quality. If we're using it as a measure of eruditeness, I'd like to know the ratio of unique words to words.

JAORE said...

Might be a valuable category at the Grammys.

Mike said...

OK I was joking about the "made up" part! It was an exaggeration, although I do appreciate his ability to demonstrate the malleability of words, as alluded to above by someone earlier.

EMD said...

Obviously an example of #whiteprivilege

Jason said...

Gotta stick up for Eminem. He's an amazing artist and a mad genius. He has an impeccable, advanced sense of time. Except instead of using notes like a jazz artist would, he uses the spoken word. He's pretty fracking amazing. Some of his work hits me straight in the gut.

I know a lot of the characters that show up in his songs... struggling young men, trying to do the right thing, and wrestling with demons.

Eminem is one of the best raw talents in pop music today, and maybe in music, in general.

I have a world of respect for what he does.


Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

Forget music... "Love the Way You Lie" is a gripping monologue presented by an actor.

Sigivald said...

I've never liked Eminem's work, but he's certainly literate.

(If we want word-count, well, we might want to do other than look at "top 93 best-selling artists across 25 genres ", which is what they used.

I'm pretty sure Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic use more words than Eminem - because they do that hyper-technical New York style rap - but they're also not superstars.

See more data, here.

Eminem isn't even in the top ten.

Kool Keith and Aesop Rock are, unsurprisingly, right there at the top.)

acm said...

Eminem knows how to find rhymes in a rhyming dictionary. But he uses those words with no regard for what they mean in a defining dictonary.

Bad poetry is when you can tell whch word carries meaning and which was tossed n because it rhymed.

7/23/15, 11:27 AM

---

This is a problem with a lot of pop and hip hop (Arianna Grande is really, really terrible about it and has no excuse since no one actually expects her to write her own songs), but not Eminem. His raps are coherent and often hilarious, though very, very dark.

Birches said...

Lacking in the "Get off my Lawn!" comments I thought I'd hear. Apparently, Eminem is well liked in Althouseland.

tim in vermont said...

Bad poetry is when you can tell whch word carries meaning and which was tossed n because it rhymed.

You mean like the time Bob Dylan put a Siamese cat on the shoulder of a diplomat? Or my personal favorite clunker in an otherwise lovely song:

Oh, I could hide 'neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings.
The six o'clock alarm would never ring.
But it rings and I rise,
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes.
The shavin' razor's cold and it stings.

Gahrie said...

Well he was using "frack" before it became popular, although it was the PG version of saying fuck in his usage, not the present contraction of hydraulic fracturing.

he stole that from Battlestar Galactica.

Gahrie said...

.But he uses those words with no regard for what they mean in a defining dictonary.

I think you're confusing Eminem with Professor Althouse and a majority of the Supreme Court.


This.

Roughcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roughcoat said...

John Stewart, I knew him well. A true nice guy, a real mensch, a great talent. RIP.

I don't have a problem with the line you boldfaced ... makes sense to me.

tim in vermont said...

OK, I admit that I haven't listened to eminem in a long time, and I haven't been following him at all, but I googled up lyrics and the first song I read got an LOL. It's more like a short story than a song, really.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/eminem/stan.html

He's like the Thomas Pynchon of rap.

tim in vermont said...

I don't have a problem with the line you boldfaced ... makes sense to me.

It just sort of turns the whole stanza around and brings it down. It has a narrative flow, then sort of falls off of it reaching for a rhyme. "what the new day brings" could have worked.

I think the song is great, BTW, if I didn't really like it, I wouldn't care.

averagejoe said...

Words without music.

St. George said...

Tell it to Dr. Seuss.

Static Ping said...

I think that rappers do compete to get unusual words into their songs to show off their rhyming skills. I have no objections as long as the word is used properly.

Eminem is a very skilled writer. He's screwed up in a wide variety of ways, but he is most talented nonetheless.

Original Mike said...

Music?

Char Char Binks said...

M & M is a very talented comedian.

acm said...

Some celebrities lead me to imagine how their lives, and the art forms they work in, would be different if they'd been raised differently.

I really wonder how Eminem would've turned out if he'd been adopted by a functional couple who enjoyed puns and carefully selected preschools that focused on reading readiness.

David said...

M&M was really good in that movie, whatever it was called.

Alex said...

He is a rap god.

William said...

I think the movie was called Six Mile. Eminen is definitely talented, but he works in a genre and with a beat that's not for people my age......I think Lorenz Hart was the most talented lyricist. He was a 4'10", bisexual alcoholic. Only a man with such qualifications can write with authority on the elusive nature of romantic love.

D said...

As Eric noted - 'Bob Dylan has a slow singing method.'

Certainly sometimes: ...and she winds back the clock, and turns back the page, of a book, that nobody can wrrrrrrritttteee...

I presume there is a thesis paper waiting to be written on which letter Dylan was better in drawling out. and how it affected climate change.

Roadkill711 said...

Do mispronunciations like "axe" for 'ask' and "Yanowhadimsayin" for 'Do you understand what I'm saying?' count as words?

Laslo Spatula said...

I am surprised that no one has opined on the fact that the white rapper beat Jay-Z, Tupac AND Kanye.

Is there White Privilege in Rap?


I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

"I am surprised that no one has opined on the fact that the white rapper beat Jay-Z, Tupac AND Kanye."

Dylan was a red herring. THIS is what Althouse hoped would get the ball rolling...


I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Could the Headline have read "White Star Rap Artist More Articulate Than Black Rap Peers"?

Because I would love to read the comments to THAT article.


I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Kanye is currently reading an Instruction Manual for Medical Laser products to set to beats. Lots of words, there.

I am Laslo.

Freeman Hunt said...

Outkast and Ludacris (both extremely popular at times) are higher than Eminem on Sigivald's more data link.

oleh said...
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Smilin' Jack said...

""Eminem has the biggest vocabulary in music...beating Jay Z and Bob Dylan."

Shouldn't that be "Eminem has the biggest vocabulary in 'music' "? Sometimes it's hard to keep the quotes straight.

Beldar said...

Three hacks. None of them musicians IMHO.

Biggest vocabulary in music? Homer, whether in translation or the original Greek, has a tiny vocabulary, and his work is still read. The Beatles needed no thesaurus to make their work accessible to the world, and their music will be remembered forever. I could give you a thousand examples of great musical artists, none of whom aspired to be recognized for their vocabularies.

Rubbish.

Mark Caplan said...

Has anyone checked whether the "8,818 different words" were used according to their accepted meanings or whether the sentences in which they were embedded made sense?

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Enema Man.

EMD said...

"Has anyone checked whether the "8,818 different words" were used according to their accepted meanings or whether the sentences in which they were embedded made sense?"

Beck's lyrics often make little literal sense, yet he is heralded as a music whiz.

EMD said...

"Three hacks. None of them musicians IMHO."

This is a Kanye West "song."