Hip Hop In 6 Charts

Using data to see what cars, social media and drugs rappers use

What drugs are rappers using? What social media?

You can get a sense of trends from listening to hip-hop, but in this day and age RapStats (from Genius) lets you run lexical searches across their whole database of lyrics.

This leads to a whole fun range of questions you can ask. Here’s a few:

1. What Drugs Are Rappers Using?

Image for post
Image for post
See all the drug keywords here

Cocaine is technically number one, but most references seems to be selling it (keys, crack), so we’ll leave that out. That leaves the following as the top drugs in hip-hop:

  1. Marijuana
  2. Codeine
  3. MDMA
  4. Pharmaceuticals

Marijuna is somewhat obvious, but what’s surprising is the rise of codeine, which is commonly abused in cough syrup form. This is a somewhat obscure drug, prescribed 4 million times in the US with legal sales of only $15 million in 2016 (Bloomberg). Pints easily sell for upwards of $600 on the street, but that hasn’t stopped it from being the most trending drug in hip-hop today.

Lean is, for reference, an opiate and terrible for you, leading to weight-gain, constipation, mental health issues and death. Just ask Gucci Mane.

Following behind are pills like MDMA and then prescription abuse like Xanax, Vicodin, and Adderall. This is an expansive topic and Genius has their own article just on drug terms if you’re interested.

2. What Social Media Do Rappers Use?

When it comes to other addictive substances, what social media are rappers using, or at least talking about?

Full search terms

The social media rankings in rap at least are as follows:

  1. Instagram
  2. Twitter
  3. Snapchat
  4. Facebook

Like many of us, rappers seem to have figured out that Facebook wasn’t cool around 2010 and migrated to Instagram, which has now surpassed Twitter in name drops. Snapchat, however, is really gaining, led by people like DJ Khaled.

3. What Fashion Brands Do Rappers Love?

Query page

More obscure brands may be trending faster, but Gucci is still pound-for-pound the most powerful fashion brand in hip-hop, followed not closely by Louis Vuitton. In one song alone Lil Pump says Gucci 53 times. For whatever reason, rappers love Gucci. To quote the young Pump song (recently featured on a Snapchat filter), “Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang (Gucci gang)”.

4. Are Rappers Homophobic?

Full search

One item that’s thankfully trending down is homophobic speech — words like faggot, homo, queer or gay.

As you can see the use of words like faggot was rising until 2009, where it promptly fell off and continues to decline. Frank Ocean is the only prominent queer artist I can think of (though not a rapper), but at least other people in the community are getting a bit less homophobic. If only a bit.

5. What Cars Are Rappers Driving?

Full query

Cars are another constant reference in rap lyrics. Mercedez Benz is still the Gucci of cars, the top luxury vehicle in the hip hop world.

Trending fast, however, is Bentley, the former Rolls Royce brand now owned by BMW. Specialized sports cars like Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis have been getting more and more popular since 2000 and, in general, coupes are sharply out-trending jeeps.

For more on this Genius has a detailed breakdown of car brands.

6. What’s More Important, Sex Or Money?

Full query

Finally, onto a more abstract question, what’s more important, power or money?

In 1996 DJ Shadow asked why hip hop sucks in 96, the answer being the money. He was a bit ahead of his time but not wrong. The money talk increased dramatically after 2002 and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down.

Meanwhile sex seems to be trending down.

More

These are just six charts I made about questions I find interesting. The fun thing about the data set is that you can try out any queries you like.

Do rappers favor puppies or kittens? Pizza or burgers?

It’s an interesting birds-eye view of hip-hop culture, and culture and general.

Try it yourself and see.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. indi@indi.ca. Videos: tiny.cc/indication. Patreon: patreon.com/indication

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store