Designer, coder, and data scientist Matt Daniels has composed a grid comparing the vocabulary of eighty-five rappers. To be fair, Daniels only used each artist's first 35,000 lyrics. He tried to only use LP's and EP's, but also included mixtapes if an artist was just shy of meeting the required word count. Inspiration was taken from William Shakespeare, who used 28,829 unique words throughout his entire career. To put things in perspective, Daniels showed where Shakespeare and Herman Melville's Moby Dick would lay on the grid, using the same 35,000 word approach.
One thing to remember is that this isn't a definitive list, since only eighty-five rappers were used. In fact, Daniels' number one pick almost didn't make it on the list at all, since he thought the rapper may be too obscure to include.
Sixteen artists surpassed Shakespeare's 5,170 unique words while only three where able to exceeded Mellville's 6,022. The top three are Aesop Rock (7,392), GZA (6,426), and Kool Keith (6,238). OutKast, Nas, and the Beastie Boys lay by Shakespeare's benchmark. Making number eighty-five is DMX with only 3,214. Surprisingly, Insane Clown Posse's 4,146 unique words transcends Run-DMC, Kanye West and even 2Pac, proving that sometimes the quality of words is more important than quantity. Check out the grid below.
You can check out an interactive version of the grid right here.