This Graph Shows Which Rappers Have A Greater Vocabulary Than William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the English language.

But a new graph by data scientist Matt Daniels shows that some of today’s most popular hip-hop artists can go word-for-word with the playwright/poet.

On his website, Daniels points out how Shakespeare used 28,829 words throughout his canon, suggesting “he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever.”

Because of this, Daniels graphed the vocabularies of famous hip-hop artists like Kanye West, Drake, and L.L. Cool J to see where they ranked in relation to Shakespeare. In order to keep the graph fair to both new and old artists, Daniels only compiled from the first 35,000 lyrics of the artists.

He also used only the first 5,000 words for seven of Shakespeare’s works (which included “Hamlet,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and “Othello”), while also including “Moby Dick” for reference (using only the first 35,000 words of the novel).

Rapping vocab

Here are some take-aways from the graph:

  • Obscure artist Aesop Rock came in at number one, using 2,000 more words than Shakespeare.
  • Jay Z, Puff Daddy, and Ludacris all fall somewhere in the middle of the graph with a vocabulary of 4,300 to 5,000 words.
  • Some artists, like The Notorious B.I.G., didn’t have enough material to be included on the list.
  • The members of the Wu-Tang Clan make up six spots on the list with GZA coming in at #2.
  • DMX came in last at #85 with just 3,214 words used.

If you wanted to find out more or play around with Daniels’ interactive graph, you can do so here.