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The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop

Literary elites love to rep Shakespeare’s vocabulary: across his entire corpus, he uses 28,829 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever (average people have a vocab of 5,000 words). I decided to compare this data point against the most famous artists in hip hop. I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. That way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, could be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.

posted by cthuljew on May 3, 2014 - 79 comments

Gigantic, gigantic! A big, big -- um, wait a second... (possibly NSFW)

Apple's new iPhone commercial uses that ultra-catchy Pixies classic, "Gigantic". But... Do you think the producers of the commercial knew what the song is about? A calculated gamble that 98% of viewers would not? Clever marketing designed to create a stir? Or just plain cluelessness?
posted by mikeand1 on Apr 26, 2014 - 118 comments

"I'm on my feet like Tough Actin'® Tinactin®."

How many rappers have name-checked Tough Actin' Tinactin brand anti-fungal skin products? More than you would think.
posted by not_on_display on Apr 17, 2014 - 25 comments

He got 20 years for lovin' her / from some Oklahoma governor

Ever been to Johnsburg, Illinois? Have you received a Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis? Maybe you left Waukegan at the slamming of the door? Or perhaps you were simply full of wonder when you left Murfreesboro. If so, the Tom Waits map is for you.
posted by scody on Jan 17, 2014 - 60 comments

Rap Idiot

Rap Genius is a lyrics site that allows its users to annotate lyrics with additional data and criticism. The site has become a touchstone in the hip-hop community: various prominent rappers have signed up for accounts to explain their own lyrics, it's been profiled and discussed in the NYT, and has raised $15 million in venture capital from Andreessen Horowitz. The founders have talked about expanding the site's annotations to other topics. Then came last Sunday, and the SEO. [more inside]
posted by Going To Maine on Dec 31, 2013 - 99 comments

Musical theatre used to be the last refuge of perfect rhyme.

Broadway musicals can’t bust a rhyme
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jun 11, 2013 - 37 comments

Meet me at Hoyt & Schermerhorn at 3 on the dot

Street signs at NYC intersections featuring rap lyrics about them.
posted by dry white toast on Mar 25, 2013 - 27 comments

Hands down the illest ventriloquist this side of the Mississippi River

To celebrate the release soulful Southern fried stoner rock band Clutch's new album, Earth Rocker, LA Weekly have put together a list of the Top Ten Awesomely Absurd and Absurdly Awesome Clutch Lyrics. It doubles as an introduction to Clutch, though you can just jump into the title track and Crucial Velocity from Earth Rocker.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants on Mar 21, 2013 - 23 comments

"I did it all in one take!"

For Your Consideration - Anne Hathaway (Emma Fitzpatrick) reminds the Academy to think of her on Oscar night via the magic of song.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 5, 2013 - 83 comments

Nothing Else Matters

Kathryn Bigelow's striking bin Laden manhunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty arrives in wide release tonight on the heels of a final artful trailer -- one with oddly familiar musical accompaniment. The funereal hymn, a cover of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" (lyrics), deftly recasts the 90s power ballad as a haunting dirge of quiet grief, shattered ideals, and a singleminded focus on revenge, a perfect distillation of the film's profoundly grim thesis. But while the song may be fitting, it wasn't composed for the project -- it's just the latest success story from Belgian women's choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers, whose mournful reinterpretations of classic and modern rock -- catapulted by their rendition of "Creep" in The Social Network -- have made them famous around the world, with star turns in the likes of Homeland ("Every Breath You Take") and Downton Abbey ("With or Without You"). Cover comparison site WhoSampled offers a list of YouTube comparisons between the covers and the originals; look inside for more of their work in movies and television. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jan 11, 2013 - 46 comments

EPIC RAP BATTLES OF HISTORY! ...RHAOMI! ...VERSUS... RHYTHM! ...BEGIN!!!

Since it debuted on the blue in '11 // Epic Rap Battles of History preppin' // to score itself more than a billion views // and become TopDog of the pack YouTube
Made by NicePeter and EpicLloyd // (two improv comics by Maker employed) // The series pits icons of legend renowned // in a slick-wit freestyle rap throwdown
With snappier writing, and better FX // online celebs (and Google Ad checks) // The Epic Rap crew's halfway done with the brew // that is Epic Rap Battles of History Part Deux
The midseason's close? It comes out today. // In one corner: Santa Claus, fresh from his sleigh
And his prophet o' doom? "He ain't Mayan," ERBoH sez.
It's Snoop Dogg -- Snoop Lion -- as mothafuckin' Moses
[WHO WON?][WHO'S NEXT?][more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 10, 2012 - 27 comments

Zeugma, syllepsis, ellipsis

In Praise of the Rolling Stones and Their Zeugmoids [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 11, 2012 - 13 comments

O'er the land of the free...

The latest record from Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Americana (released June 5, 2012), is a surprising collection of grungy covers of classic American folk songs, many of which are better known for their contemporary use as children's songs or camp songs. Of the record, Neil Young said:
Every one of these songs has verses that have been ignored. And those are the key verses, those are the things that make these songs live. They’re a little heavy for kindergarteners to be singing. The originals are much darker, there’s more protest in them...[cite]
Nevertheless, many of NY&CH's renditions skip some of the juicier bits from the history of these songs' performance. Read on for a listing of tracks with some of their darkest verses. [more inside]
posted by yourcelf on Jul 14, 2012 - 30 comments

Any fool can think of words that rhyme, many others do, why can't you?

30 beautiful song lyrics
posted by Hartster on May 24, 2012 - 121 comments

"I do indeed in greed explore the plump mellow yellow smellow melons of her rump."

Who Said It: James Joyce or Kool Keith?
posted by obscurator on Apr 10, 2012 - 40 comments

"South Detroit is as fictional as the Shire of Middle-earth"

"I ran the phonetics of east, west, and north, but nothing sounded as good or emotionally true to me as South Detroit," he says. "The syntax just sounded right. I fell in love with the line. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned that there is no South Detroit. But it doesn’t matter." One of rock's greatest mysteries, finally solved.
posted by jbickers on Jan 11, 2012 - 106 comments

All I Want Is For You To Give Me My Pizzareeee

We were kids...and songs would come on...and I would sing really loud...always the wrong lyrics. My little sister grew up thinking MY lyrics were the right ones. via
posted by Knappster on Dec 22, 2011 - 28 comments

The wayward sons of Mother Earth

Founded in 1990, Skyclad is considered to be one of the first bands in the "folk metal" genre. Until his departure in 2001, the lyrics came from the pen of band leader Martin Walkyier, who wrote some of the most poetic and sharply socio-political lyrics in metal (and had a wicked way with a pun, to boot). [more inside]
posted by jbickers on Dec 7, 2011 - 18 comments

♫ "The first and only freely-available, industrial-scale dataset for research on popular music and audio analysis" ♬

"The Million Song Dataset is a freely-available collection of audio features and metadata for a million contemporary popular music tracks." It's about 288 GB but you can download a smaller subset of 10,000 songs selected at random to get a taste. Curious what you'll get? Check out this example track description. [more inside]
posted by jessamyn on Oct 2, 2011 - 27 comments

What? No Hut-Sut Rawlson on the Rillerah?

A brief history of lyrics that aren't lyrics (1964-2008) SLYT
yeah, I'm kinda disappointed they didn't start at an earlier date, with all the potential doo-dahs, shooby-doos and weem-a-ways...
posted by oneswellfoop on Oct 1, 2011 - 37 comments

He put a ring on it, and it felt like a kiss

Endless Noise turns Beyonce's Single Ladies into a tribute to the girl groups of Motown.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 13, 2011 - 25 comments

A rap eulogy in 32 bars (give or take 5%)

"On November 22, 1997, there was a party at 635 Logan Street, Steubenville, Ohio. Hubbard attended this party. At the party were several members of the gang known as the Crips. It is contested whether Hubbard is a member of the Crips. During that evening, Wise God Allah, a.k.a. Grier Montgomery, was walking down the street outside of the party. Wise God Allah was known to be a member of the rival gang the Bloods. Hubbard and up to nine other men began shooting at Wise God Allah. One of the shots hit Wise God Allah. The gunshot wound was fatal."*
"On one record I did called 'Wise' that didn't make the album the Supreme Clientele—I couldn't use it, they took it off**—I cried writing it. I wrote it on the beach. And I cried. And it started raining when I was crying. It was in Miami. I cried writing it, and then when I went to go record it, it had some tears coming to my eyes too, recording it, because I had to zone out, I couldn't really do it in front of everybody. I don't like to record in front of a lot of people especially when I'm writing emotional stuff." - Ghostface Killah [audio interview] [more inside]
posted by jng on Apr 30, 2011 - 12 comments

Who the f**k is Wikileaks? ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

At long last, Wikileaks gets a catchy theme song: "Who the f**k is Wikileaks" by "Chicken Soup (Boney M Goes Club)", a new project from veteran producer Frank Farian, the man behind Boney M and Milli Vanilli. Warning: the song contains repeated use of the "F"-word, and the video contains images of the "anonymous" mask. [more inside]
posted by iviken on Mar 8, 2011 - 32 comments

We'll Marry Our Fortunes Together

In recession-hit Saginaw, MI, the initial setting of Simon and Garfunkel's "America", mural painter Eric Shantz has begun painting the lyrics to the song on abandoned buildings.
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Dec 19, 2010 - 41 comments

Who knew Mike D knew so many dance moves.

Beastie Boys Annotated [more inside]
posted by cthuljew on Dec 16, 2010 - 44 comments

Well, he was smilin’ like a vulture as he rolled up the horticulture

Out on bail, fresh outta jail, California dreamin’
Soon as I stepped on the scene, I’m hearin’ hoochies screamin’

What a surprise to read that couplet on "The New Yorker's" website, in an article about Jay-Z's new book. It also discusses Adam Bradley's "Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop," an academic study that respects rap lyrics as serious poetry. [more inside]
posted by grumblebee on Dec 4, 2010 - 82 comments

"I realized it is basically insane to make any kind of judgment about rap without hearing it."

Listening to Rap for the First Time, with a Book Critic
posted by OverlappingElvis on Nov 4, 2010 - 80 comments

He made himself a Daddy

Though never a competition, the Def Poetry Jam is a rhyming spin off from its comidic uncle that plays host to some of the most fantastic spoken word from a wonderful breadth of poets and people. The fun and inocent, the declaration of love , your cause the famous and the famouser, the needs of a single woman, the manifest, the virus and one written and delivered with such emotion and power that it left me speachless, "Knock Knock" by Daniel Beaty
posted by Cogentesque on Oct 14, 2010 - 16 comments

Finding Lyrics Everywhere

The Gregory Brothers do it with YouTube videos (as seen previously on the blue). Gabriel Kahane and Sam Krahn did it with Craigslist. Phil Kline and Bryant Kong did it with Donald Rumsfeld. Making music from found lyrics is booming. [more inside]
posted by sgranade on Oct 6, 2010 - 8 comments

Each of us a cell of awareness, imperfect and incomplete

Rhetorical analysis of Rush's "Free Will"
posted by jtron on Aug 31, 2010 - 86 comments

Homeboy got a mind that a map couldn't find

The Rap Map is a mashup of notable places and geographical lyrics in rap and hip-hop. It's brought to you by Rap Genius, a site that explains rap lyrics like "I'm getting jacked, I'm breaking myself" (Warren is getting “jacked” (robbed) and “breaking himself” (generally befuddled)) and "One day you're cruising in your 7, next day you're sweating, forgetting your lies" (Street life can be tough — one day you’re riding high in your BMW 7 Series luxury car, the next day you’re arrested and cracking under pressure. The rest of this verse is a classic warning that the hustling lifestyle is not for everybody)
posted by desjardins on Aug 21, 2010 - 43 comments

You Can't Catch Me

You Can't Catch Me, Music and Lyrics by Chuck Berry. The Stones covered it. John Lennon was sued (twice!) for covering it and appropriating the lyrics. If Iggy Pop and the Stooges were never sued for doing the same thing as "Come Together" in 1970, perhaps it's because nobody could understand what exactly he was saying, not even the bands that took their names from the adapted lyrics. Perhaps JJ Cale was thinking of the chorus when he wrote Call Me The Breeze in 1971. Finally, though Jonothan Richman's "Roadrunner" clearly took inspiration from the Velvet Underground's Sister Ray and Bo Diddley's "Road Runner"(among other things), but, as a Berry fan, you can hear Richman echoing the lyrics in the Spirit of 1956 going Faster Miles an Hour, with the radio on, tuned to Rock And Roll. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 19, 2010 - 43 comments

Rhymes with ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay.

Playground Jungle: The "folk process" in the subversive songs, rhymes, stories and jokes you told when the teacher wasn't around. Visit the whole (growing) collection via the index of first lines.
posted by nebulawindphone on Jan 13, 2010 - 101 comments

Hurricane Chris

Shreveport rapper Hurricane Chris performs for the Louisiana State Legislature.
posted by TrialByMedia on Jul 3, 2009 - 34 comments

But what would Frank Lloyd Wright say?

"[Jax de Leon's] last project as a student was a graphic representation of every note, word, instrument and voice from Come on, Feel the Illinoise! by Sufjan Stevens." Read an interview with him here.
posted by spiderskull on Jun 10, 2009 - 19 comments

Filed under: he said what now?

Snacks and Shit - The premise is simple: A single hip-hop lyric, taken out of context, with bonus commentary.
posted by toxic on Feb 24, 2009 - 110 comments

Enter Sandkitty

Herein lies a link to a JPG of LOLcats representing the famous Metallica lyrics. [more inside]
posted by juliplease on Jan 24, 2009 - 25 comments

National Anthems of the World

Have you ever wondered what the national anthem of Bolivia, Nepal or The Republic of Seychelles sounded like? Well wonder no more because NationalAnthems.info has got you covered! It claims to have the national anthem for every country in the world in MIDI format, along with downloadable lyrics and sheet music so you can sing and play along. But if the MIDI format isn't doing it for you, there's also other sites that you can visit that have downloadable MP3s of pretty much every national anthem this planet and its inhabitants have to offer, such as this one or this one, which is notable in that the anthems featured there were performed by the US Navy Band. And finally, for your further reading and listening pleasure, check out this forum which contains background information on and even more links to downloadable national anthems.
posted by Effigy2000 on Sep 22, 2008 - 14 comments

Prewar Blues Lyrics & Dylan Lyrics Concordances 'N Stuff

The things I like best about Michael Taft's Prewar Blues Lyrics Concordance, a subsection of T. G. Lindh's Web Concordances of Pre-War Blue Lyrics and Bob Dylan Lyrics, are the listings of the lyrics by singer: A - C, D - H, J - L, M - R and S - Y. And the nice thing about the blues lyrics is you don't need to ask for a log in and password. It 's all right there. Explore and enjoy. [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Mar 5, 2008 - 9 comments

Lyrical visuals

Solar, with lyrics. A very pretty, surprisingly wordy video. (via)
posted by Pronoiac on Feb 4, 2008 - 20 comments

Protest Songs

So are you ready to march on Washington to protest in song? Here are some lyrics. Some examples from the 60's. Something sweet from Bob Dylan. Speaking of Zimmermans, here's Roy's take on Iraq. [more inside]
posted by snsranch on Oct 14, 2007 - 33 comments

Famous First Words

The 25 Best Pop Song Opening Lyrics, like EVER - a spinner.com 'hit list', complete with wry commentary and abruptly cut-off audio clips. Bonus: 25 more, suggested by people who don't work for the webside. [more inside]
posted by wendell on Sep 6, 2007 - 254 comments

Carlos Gardel and the Tango

Carlos Gardel was a singer who became a national icon of Argentina. He sang the tango among other styles, but would now be most famous for this, which was originally this. (Lyrics here.) For those of you who think this is all too romantic, listen to another side of tango...(Translation here.)
posted by StrikeTheViol on Aug 1, 2007 - 10 comments

Bomb the Bass

Bug Powder Dust
Lyrics, by Bomb the Bass
posted by hypersloth on Jul 10, 2007 - 36 comments

Great Russian Voices

Giants of Soviet opera are little known in the West. But Victor Han has taken it upon himself to keep their memory alive....my personal favorite is Mark Reizen, a deeply nuanced bass, who was powerful enough to carry on singing into his ninth decade. If you'd care to follow along with some of the songs, you can use Emily Ezust's massive archive of lyrics, to which Victor contributes. Or, try listening in English first. Too much music? Here's some reading.
posted by StrikeTheViol on May 13, 2007 - 9 comments

Haaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! The Laughing Policeman!

When I was a kid, my dad, who grew up in London, during the Blitz, used to play this old record: a song called "The Laughing Policeman." It always put a smile on my face. According to Wikipedia, it was written in 1922 by Charles Jolly, who wrote "numerous other laughing songs (The Laughing Major, Curate, Steeplechaser, Typist, Lover, etc)." If you want to hear the happiest policeman ever, here's the mp3. The song has inspired cartoonists, mystery novelists (great series, by the way!), filmmakers, a more-recent recording (mp3), and, inevitably, some scary people on youtube. Speaking of youtube, this is how I remember the song.
posted by grumblebee on Feb 11, 2007 - 41 comments

Paroles, Paroles, Paroles...

LyricsWiki is the place to find reliable lyrics without invasive ads. SongMeanings when you've been wondering what those lyrics mean. The Archive of Misheard Lyrics because sometimes your version is much better than the original.
posted by Sharcho on Oct 21, 2006 - 21 comments

Songophobia

What inoffensive songs do people find scary? A list asked for by a curious Jarvis Cocker, former frontman of the band Pulp.
My favorite entry:
"Laughing Gnome - Bowie. Scared the crap out of me as a kid. I remember getting my parents to check under the bed. My father, a bit of an evil electronics bastard put a speaker under my bed one night and played the song just as I was drifting off. He then ran in when I started screaming and pulled out a doll from under the bead and chopped its head off with a machete. God I need therapy."
posted by w0mbat on Oct 3, 2006 - 152 comments

Bob Dylan Annnotated and Tablaturated

Artur J's Annotated Lyrics of Bob Dylans Love and Theft has expanded and now features Annotated lyrics for Street Legal, Knocked Out Loaded, Oh, Mercy and Modern Times. And he is already on top of Dylan's quotes of Henry Timrod on the new album. On a related tip, someone waved a lawyer at Eyolf Østrem, so he removed all his tabs from his Dylan tablature site, My Back Pages. But, fortunately there are some mirrors and the blog of this one has a tab page for Modern Times already.
posted by y2karl on Sep 14, 2006 - 13 comments

It's like 10 000 spoons when all you need is a knife

32 worst lyrics of all time
posted by mr.marx on Jul 21, 2006 - 254 comments

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