New site puts a new spin on rap music

LatinaLista — When people talk of hiphop, it’s understood that it’s not just about the music.

Hiphop and rap represent a whole subculture that overtook the music industry and made the nation aware that urban youth face a totally different life experience than youth living in the burbs.

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Over time, even though the “burb youth” adopted rap as their own, the beginnings of rap and hiphop remain a lyrical history lesson of what was happening with urban youth in the nation.

Now, a new site created by Black Youth Project makes it easy to trace the history of what rap music reflected during those times.

Graph depicts how often the term “police” was used in rap songs from 1989-2009.

The Rap Lyrics Database is the first in the nation to let users search through the lyrics of the most popular rap songs over the last 20 years.

“The Rap Lyrics Database is a rich resource for anyone interested in knowing what is important to urban youth,” said Professor Marcyliena Morgan, Founding Director, Hiphop Archive at Harvard University.

“One can search the top hiphop recordings of the last 20 years to reveal trends in lyrics that reflect various attitudes and crises among our youth. Searches like “teacher,” “education,” “prison,” “justice,” “death,” etc. result in graphs and lyrics that suggest that the best MCs addressed the major issues affecting their communities.”

Visitors can search the lyrics of rap songs that made it to Billboard Music’s top rankings from 1989 to February 2009 in three ways: “(1) by the list of songs that appeared on the charts for 20 weeks or more (indicating heavy radio and video play), (2) by only the number one songs from the Rap charts, or (3) both lists at the same time.”

What’s cool is that the database also allows for keyword searches and brings up not only the songs in their entirety that have that word but a graph that shows in which years that word was most often used in rap songs.

All in all, it’s a cool site that has a lot of potential with one goal — increasing the understanding of mainstream (music, media, society, etc.) as to how rap artists view life and feel life treats them — with the understanding that the artists aren’t just speaking for themselves.

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