Select one of the albums to see the motif counts

Motif Graph (Overall) Writeup The bar representing the ‘women’ tag is quite high due to the fact that each instance of “she” and “her” is tagged throughout the corpus, inflating the results (as compared to where they would be if each instance of a woman being referenced was marked rather than every word indicating a woman); additionally, certain songs (“That Gushy,” for instance) contain a count of ‘women’ references that is above average. Violence is a common theme due to the rough area of Brooklyn in which Joey grew up and which played a heavy influence on his hip-hop style. Success, whether pursuit or possession, is a common theme in Joey’s music due to the lofty aspirations that he has for himself and his crew, the Pros. The hiphop and money tags are expectedly higher than average due to the fact that they are important themes in Joey’s life; Joey has said that hip-hop raised him, and money is an obvious focus for him (as can be seen in the title of his first album, B4.DA.$$. —read as “Before da Money”). Religion was a strong part of Joey’s upbringing, and currently holds profound beliefs involving third-eye mysticism, and this is reflected in the number of occurrences of the ‘religion’ tag. Sex is a somewhat obvious topic of discussion for a young, newly successful rap star..

We utilized Cytoscape, a tool that is used for generating Social Network Graphs, in order to graphically display our data in an engaging and interesting way. We generated three social network graphs, each of which use the albums as nodes and their relationship with other nodes as edges. Using xslt we gathered the data on (respectively) artists, producers, and hip hop references, and developed the following three graphs tracking the frequency of appearance of these elements.

Artists who Rapped Together on the Same Song in the Corpus

This social network graph reveals the artists who rap together on each album. As can be expected, Joey Bada$$ is the artist who appears most in the corpus; his node is largest. Of the four projects in the corpus, 1999 has the largest variety of artists rapping on it, with 13 including Joey. Pro Era members Chuck Strangers, CJ Fly, Kirk Knight, Dessy Hinds, Dyemond Lewis, Capital Steez, T’nah Apex, Nyck Caution, and Rokamouth are featured prominently, each appearing on multiple tracks. On Joey’s next release, Rejex, there are only two speakers, Joey and Sample. This is likely due to the ‘throwaway’ nature of the project; it consists of tracks that did not make the cut for Joey’s debut project 1999, as well as tracks he made during his formative years before 1999’s release. On Joey’s third project, Summer Knights, there are slightly fewer artists rapping, with 12. Pro Era still makes a large contribution to the album, but it also features some artists who are not in the posse, such as Smoke DZA and Collie Buddz. This reflects Joey’s increasing prominence in the hip hop world, as well as his desire to branch out and work with different artists. Finally, on Joey’s most recent project—and his first for-profit release—B4.DA.$$., there are only 9 artists who rap on the project, and of these only Dyemond Lewis is a member of Pro Era. The progression of featured artists that can be tracked through Joey’s career (excepting Rejex) can be seen to decrease. This decrease in features is indicative of Joey’s increasing abilities as an artist, and his desire to showcase his own abilities more and more.

Artists Referenced (by Album) Throughout the Corpus

This social network graph depicts the hip-hop figures that are referenced throughout the corpus. The outer circle consists of artists who are referenced only on a single project, while those artists referenced on multiple projects exist in the inner circle. Node size and color reflects the frequency of a reference; for instance, Jay-Z is referenced on all four projects and the corresponding node is large and orange as a result. Artists found in the outer circle seem to be those who Joey likes and respects, as well as those who work with him from time to time. Artists appearing in the inner circle are a bit more interesting. These are artists who have either had a very large role in Joey’s progression as a rapper whether as a friend or as an inspiration. Pro Era is referenced frequently throughout the corpus, as they are Joey’s friends and crew. Jay-Z, Nas, Kanye West, and the Notorious B.I.G. are among artists who played a major role in influencing Joey as a rapper and as an artist. The number of references on each project, with the exception of Rejex, is relatively consistent; each of the other three projects contain about 100 references in total.

Beatmakers in the Corpus

This social network graph reveals the artists behind the production of the tracks on each project; as each project contains approximately the same number of tracks, and only a couple producers are responsible for producing beats on multiple tracks on a project, the graph appears to be relatively evenly distributed. Chuck Strangers, MF DOOM, J. Dilla, and Statik Selektah are the most prevalent in the corpus, and their styles of beatmaking are all distinctly in the style of old school, “Golden Age” hip-hop (1990s). The fact that Joey chooses to work with each of these artists on multiple tracks shows his reverence and appreciation for the old school hip hop sounds generated by each of those artists. A revealing fact is that many of the producers’ sounds Joey utilizes on his first three projects, mixtapes he gave away for free, are available for free online (MF DOOM and J.Dilla are two notable examples of producers with prolific catalogs available for free online). However, on his album, Joey turns to more popular and in-vogue producers such as Hit-Boy, Basquiat, and a J.Dilla beat reworked by The Roots. This reveals the growth of Joey’s music to a more selective space; as a more popular and well-known artist by the time he began to make B4.DA.$$., Joey was able to handpick the producers he wanted to work with on his debut album, rather than working within a catalog of beats available for free online.


Key: Albums are represented by diamonds when otherwise unclear; artists are represented by circles. The thickness of the lines connecting the nodes indicates the frequency of appearance in a given album (depending on the album nodes connected to the edges) and the node size indicates overall frequency throughout the corpus. The color is graded from green to red by frequency of appearance, with green being lowest and red being highest.


What is African American Vernacular?

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is a dialect of American English that was established as a creole language (in layman’s terms a language that is a combination of two different languages) that was formed during slavery and developed through racial segregation in the US. Its root languages are those spoken by African slaves and American English. These two came in contact during the times of slavery, and the language developed into its own dialect through segregation of slaves and later on African American citizens from white citizens. In modern times, AAVE is primarily spoken by working-class American’s who live in urban settings. While the language is spoken by all ethnicities, its primary users are Black American’s living in the previously mentioned socio-economic class.

Like all dialects, there are negative and positive connotations with its use. In Hip-Hop culture, it is often used as a means of developing street cred. Hip-Hop was created by the African American community as a form of musical expression, the roots of which date back to songs sung by slaves in American and the Caribbean. As you can see, there is a historical relationship between the creation of AAVE and the creation of Hip-Hop, which highlights the importance of the use of the dialect in the music.

Our Goal:

In looking at AAVE, we hoped to see how its use evolves as Joey develops both as a rapper and as a member of the Hip-Hop community. I had predicted that there would be a growth overtime in the use of AAVE in Joey’s songs.

Linguistic Markup Counts by Album:

What we found:

The graphs above gives us a count of the linguistic information coded in our data. As you can see from the graphs above, for the majority of the categories, the count of their use declines as Joey’s career progresses with the exception of his mixtape Rejex. As we have seen in all of our analysis of the data, Rejex seems to be an outlier in a relatively steady growth/decline. This is most likely due to the fact that Rejex was a collection of rejected material which is described in more detail on the Projects Page.

With the exclusion of Rejex, we do see a gradual decline of the use of AAVE in the albums. This suggests that Joey has decreased his use of these devices as a whole over the course of his career. This could be a result of not feeling the need to develop “street cred” as he is already a well-known member of the rap community. It could also suggest that he has become a more mainstream rapper. As white men make up one of the largest sections of the Hip-Hop audience, there may be a desire to shift the dialect use to be more accessible to that audience as a rapper becomes more mainstream.

The graphs also show an increase of the use of compounds and foreign languages. This is most likely due to Joey becoming a more knowledgeable rapper and developing new linguistic tools as he ages. Unlike the use of AAVE, which are all the devices to the left of compounds, there is nothing that would suggest that this would decline as his audience changes.

Because we see the largest use of Contraction and Deletion. I wanted to look at what the various aspects of those devices and how they were used. What I first focused on was how Deletion was used. I wanted to see which word class was used with the most frequency and how that relates to AAVE. To the right there is a chart outlining which word class is used with what frequency.

As you can see, Copula is the category that is most often deleted. This is due to the lack of copulas in the African languages that AAVE originated in. Copulas are connecting verbs that stem from the verb to be. Despite the fact that copulas often referred to as deleted in AAVE, this word class is not seen in the African languages that AAVE originated from thus they never existed in the dialect. This is why we see this category appear as deleted with such frequency. However, in comparison to Standard American English (SAE) it can be seen as deletion. The second word class we see is auxiliaries. These are "supporting words" like do, would, will, and other words that do not carry on them tense but not much semantic meaning. These words are easily dropped in all dialects of American English as they are easily contracted and then dropped from speech. The remaining categories are more likely deleted do to creativity rather than anything else.

For Contraction, I looked at which were the most common words to be contracted as shown in the chart to the left. As you can see, there are significantly more possibilities for the words of a contraction and these words have various different part of speech classifications. However, the second word in a contraction is made from a smaller selection of words that are primarily function words that don't contain semantic meaning and are rather used to create the sentence. Finally, the third word, which is rather rare in occurrence, is primarily the word "to" with only two exceptions to that. This is most likely from the frequency of the word "I'mma" which is a contraction of the words "I'm going to."

This information tells us a little bit about how contractions function in both AAVE and in SAE. In both cases the words that contains the most meaning is usually the first word, while the second and third words are functional in their nature. This suggests that we are able to combine the meaning of these words for easier function.

From each AAVE category that was collected, we can learn more about the function of AAVE particularly in a creative setting. While this is a relatively small corpus to make conclusions on as a whole, it gives us some insight to how AAVE is used in Hip-Hop and in general.

Deleted Word Types

Copula Auxiliary To Preposition
207 11 7 4

Contracted Words

Word 1 Count
is 56
got 29
am 27
are 21
I'm 21
going 18
trying 17
have 4
does 4
out 3
want 3
did 3
what 2
and 2
let 2
do 2
come 2
could 1
should 1
there 1
give 1
Word 2 Count
not 120
to 66
going 18
of 5
me 3
you 2
then 2
here 2
is 1
your 1
Word 3 Count
to 18
no 1
are 1


Album Total Groups Average Group Length
1999 74 2.283
Rejex 12 2.5
Summer Knights 48 2.375
B4.DA.$$ 70 2.271
Album Total Groups Average Group Length
1999 57 2.368
Rejex 14 2.143
Summer Knights 65 2.215
B4.DA.$$ 22 2
Album Total Groups Average Group Length
1999 68 2.279
Rejex 12 2.33
Summer Knights 30 2.966
B4.DA.$$ 25 2.36
Album Total Groups Average Group Length
1999 9 2.33
Rejex 1 2
Summer Knights 3 2
B4.DA.$$ 6 2.33
Album Total Groups Average Group Length
1999 330 2.526
Rejex 172 2.779
Summer Knights 320 2.428
B4.DA.$$ 266 2.566
Slant Rhyme
Album Total Groups Average Group Length
1999 188 2.213
Rejex 70 2
Summer Knights 215 2.187
B4.DA.$$ 139 2.108

The data from our markup on Joey Bada$$’s body of work demonstrates clear patterns in his use of poetic devices. Firstly, other than his use of consonance, which was sparse throughout all four projects, Joey’s implementation of the other poetic devices (alliteration, assonance, assimilation, rhyme, and slant rhyme) is markedly lower in Rejex when compared to 1999, Summer Knights, and B4.DA.$$. This pattern is rather similar across the poetic devices, however, the two that stand out the most are seen in the data on rhyme and slant rhyme. While Joey’s work averaged 305 rhyme groups per project in 1999, Summer Knights, and B4.DA.$$, Rejex only contained 172 rhyme groups per project. Similarly, when one examines his use of slant rhyme, the same pattern emerges. In 1999, Summer Knights, and B4.DA.$$, the average slant rhyme group per project was 180.67, while in Rejex there were only 70 slant rhyme groups. This discussion of the discrepancy is not meant to imply that musically 1999, Summer Knights, and B4.DA.$$. are better pieces of work, there are a multitude of factors outside of poetic devices that can determine the quality of a song, beat, sample, production, delivery, theme, etc., rather, it simply shows that Joey’s work on Rejex is not as enhanced by the prevalence of poetry. This notion is further supported when one examines Joey’s own discussion of Rejex, via, “ “1999 Rejex” is a compilation of tracks that didn't make it to my debut mixtape "1999" (obviously). I decided to put this project together because I have a lot of unreleased material that I didn't want to keep from the ears of my fans and supporters. I also have a couple of tracks on here I did when I was 15 years old ("Little Rachel", "Indubitable", and "Silent Knight") and I want to show people the progress I've made in a couple of years. The remaining songs ("Flowers Pt. I", "Catharsis", "Panty Raid", "Fantum" and "Update") are tracks I dropped prior to the release of '99 as promo only. I look at “Rejex" as my more experimental side compared to '99. Putting together these two projects even taught me a lil sumchin about my evolution as an artist and individual. Watch me go from "Joey B4 DA $$" to the "Joey BA DA $$"...... If you know what eye mean.. Haha -oG $wank”

Furthermore, after setting aside Rejex, due to its lack of a clear project theme and the presence of songs that were made years apart, upon examining the poetic statistics of Joey’s three cohesive projects, 1999, Summer Knights, and B4.DA.$$ some consistencies were evident as well as differentiation between projects. Firstly, there was minimal discrepancy between the prevalence of alliteration and consonance across the three pieces of work. B4.DA.$$ had significantly less instances of assonance when compared to 1999 and Summer Knights, 25 compared to 68 and 89 respectively. Additionally there were large discrepancies between rhyme, B4. (265 groups), Summer Knights (320 groups), and 1999 (330 groups), and slant rhyme, B4. (139 groups), Summer Knights (215 groups) and 1999 (188 groups). While one may be tempted to use this data to conclude that B4.DA.$$ is not of the same general quality as 1999 and Summer Knights, similar to the discussion of Rejex in the preceding paragraph, in actuality, the data only demonstrates that Joey’s two mixtapes employ some poetic devices significantly more often than his first studio album. Whatever an individual’s opinion of Joey’s three main musical projects may be, it likely depends on their preference between consistently poetry heavy songs and songs that contains more lyrical, thematic, and poetic variation.

When determining Joey’s most poetically creative work, both 1999 and Summer Knights are clearly more poetically innovative than B4.DA.$$. This conclusion is based on an examination of his use of assimilation throughout the three works. In this digital humanities project, assimilation prevalence is used as the benchmark for poetic creativity. This is due to the level of difficulty required to assimilate words, as well as the multitude of factors that are involved in producing a string of assimilation. Additionally, one must possess both a creative and profound understanding of how humans hear and process words in order to produce poetically effective assimilation. Joey’s knack for assimilation allows him to subtly trick the listener’s ear by altering seemingly dissimilar words to produce similar sounds in complex poetic occurrences. This is a skill that only a select group of lyricists possess at a level comparable to Joey, and it is on its greatest display in 1999 and Summer Knights in which there are 57 and 65 different assimilation groups in comparison to B4.DA.$$’s 22.