PopCornucopia is all about free associative pop culture tidbits as they strike my fancy, just like kernels of corn exploding into fullness at a random and unpredictable pace. And of course, the cornucopia is the horn of plenty.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

AnthroPOPlogy #1: Lexicon'n'n'on'n'on on'n'on

From the Harvard Hip Hop Archive to the critical look at its fictionalized version in On Beauty, whether one likes it or not, hip hop is quickly rising as a topic worth intense scrutiny in the academy. A recently proposed Hip Hop Word Count, which I learned about here, is aiming to further institutionalize the genre. Without doubt, it is an appeal for the importance of metrics in culture--a literal meter of the music, if you'll pardon the pun.

The Hip-Hop Word Count (HHWC) is a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 40,000 Hip-Hop songs from 1979 to present day. The database is the heart of an online analysis tool that generates textual and quantified reports on searched phrases, syntax, memes and socio-political ideas.

The project fundraising site further explains its possible usage:

How can analyzing lyrics teach us about our culture?

The Hip-Hop Word Count locks in a time and geographic location for every metaphor, simile, cultural reference, phrase, meme and socio-political idea used in the corpus of Hip-Hop.

The Hip-Hop Word Count then converts this data into explorable visualisations which help us to comprehend this vast set of cultural data.

This data can be used to chart the migration of ideas and builds a geography of language and is the engine for a teaching curriculum.

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