How Many English Words Do You Need to Know to Understand Your Favorite Hip Hop Artist?
How many words do you need to know to speak a language? According to the BBC, somewhere between 1000 and 3000 unique words (lemmas) to understand most coversations, as well as television and movies. But how many words will you need to know to understand your favorite hip hop artist?
Well that depends who you like to listen to. If you're a fan of music that's been released since 2010, you'll need around 3000+ words. However, if you're a fan of rappers from the 1990's or 2000's, then you'll likely need to expand your vocabluary to up to 6000 words or more, according to this great article and interactive info graphic by Matt Daniels. With artists like Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar appearing to have somewhat mediocre vocabularies, it might surprise you how few words you'll need to know to full understand some of hip hop's greatest.
So, who's in the lead with the best vocabulary in hip hop? While it's obvious that the Wu-Tang Clan are up front, it appears even they don't have much on Aesop Rock (7879 unique words). Taste in hip hop aside, learning new vocabulary is always a challenge, so why not make it fun and attach some English lessons to a song you already enjoy? Get in touch if you'd like some help decoding your favorite tune.