Project Methodology

Methodology Overview

The purpose of this project was to discover the ways in which Joey Bada$$ has grown as an artist since the release of his first mixtape to the release of his first studio album. In determining how he has grown and evolved, we have decided to look at three areas of study. The first area of study is poetics; with this we hoped to see what poetic devices Joey uses most prominently, and if the use of these devices changed over time. The second area we looked at is linguistics, with this we tracked the use of compounds and how/if their use evolved. Additionally, we tracked the use of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and how the use of the AAVE dialect changes as Joey Bada$$ becomes more a more prominent figure in hip-hop. Finally we looked at motifs, and how various themes present themselves in various songs and projects as Joey grows and progresses.


African American Vernacular English (AAVE) Markup

All AAVE markup has a field and a type attribute. The field attribute can have one of two values, either “syn" for syntax or morphology markup or “phon" for phonological or phonetic markup. The type attribute marks the linguistic category that the text falls into. Below describes the type tag and the tags that follow the tag depending on category:


This attribute is used when a sound is dropped from a word. For example, the word somthin’ would be tagged as <AAVE field="phon" type="dropping" sound="g" position="initial" >somthin’</AAVE>. The tag also includes a sound attribute that describes the sound that is being dropped as well as the position of that sound.


This attribute is used when the wrong tense is used in a phrase. For instance ‘We wasn’t on the grind’ would be tagged as We <AAVE field="syn" type="tense" person="first plural">wasn't</AAVE> on the grind. This is accompanied by the attribute person which is marked as the person that the word should be, in this case first person plural.


This attribute is used when a word is deleted from a sentence. It is like dropping but on a sentence level. The tag is typically used for copula deletion (the deletion of to be words) and is always an empty tag that looks like this <AAVE field="syn" type="deletion" class="copula"/AAVE>. It is accompanied by the class attribute which describes the word class of the missing word. It can be one of the following: "copula", "preposition", "auxiliary", "to", "object".


This attribute is used when a phrase uses tense/aspect in a manner that is different than Standard American English (SAE) The tag is typically used as follows: <AAVE field="syn" type="aspect" tense="habitual">sounds been profound</AAVE>. This attribute is accompanied by the tense attribute which describes one of the tenses used, which are described below:

Aspect of AAVE
Tense Example
Past I been/done/did flown it
Progressive He been working
Habitual He be working Tuesdays
Present He be working it
Future I'mma/ I gonna fly it


This attribute is used when there is a double negative or a negative concord. This is commonly seen in phrases like ‘Cause it <AAVE field="syn" type="negative">ain’t no fun if the homies don’t get none</AAVE>. This has no accompanying attributes


This attribute is used when a word is contracted that is abnormal to SAE. This means that words like ‘it’s’ will not be tagged by words like ‘tryna’ will be tagged. The tag looks like <AAVE field="phon" type="contraction" word1="trying" word2="to" >tryna</AAVE>. The attribute is accompanied with the word1, word2, and an optional word3 attribute. These describe the non-concatenated words.


We use the word compound to desribe when two words are compounded to form new meaning. For instance, mailman is compound of the word mail and the word man and is considered an endocentric compound because the stem, mail, motifies the head, man. There are also exocentric compounds. For example, the word redhead combines the word red and the word head, but creates whole new meaning. While endocentric compounds get their meaning from the head, exocentric compounds create new meaning from the words. In marking up the compounds we identify the head, stem, and type (exocentric or endocentric) of the compound.


Joey has a tendency to steal from ohter languages in his lyrics. Most notably is his use of Spanish and Jamaican Creole. We have marked up his uses of other languages by identifying the language that is used with a lang attribute and a translation of the word with a trans attribute. Many of the translations are slightly manipulated to give a better understand of what he means to say rather than a direct translation of the text.


Motif Markup

Joey Bada$$'s raps contain common themes throughout the corpus; these are motifs. Joey's use of a wide range of subject matter, in addition to his lyrical complexity and skill, help to make his music endearing and engaging to his fans. Tracking the frequency of use of certain motifs across the corpus may reveal surprising results.


References to: brands of alcohol, consumption of alcohol, drinking games, effects of alcohol, and colloquial terms for types of alcohol. Example: <alcohol>Moet</alcohol>


Criticism of the rap game and of phony rappers. Example: <criticism>Slipping like fishes, choking when you hit the cypher</criticism>


References to: drugs, the use and sale of drugs, and users of drugs. Marijuana is not included in this category. Example: <drugs>the crack, they overdose</drugs>


References to fashion designers and brands, as well as references to articles of clothing. Example: <fashion>lo, like Ralph</fashion>


Any mention of food, in any form. Also, mentions of consumption of food. Example: <food>kiwi</food>

Geographical Locations

All references to geographical locations, whether explicit or implicit. The ref attribute contains the official name of the reference, due to the fact that some references are nicknames or abbreviations. Example: <geo ref="Brooklyn">Brooklyn</geo>


References to guns, both direct and indirect. Example: <guns>the heater</guns>


This tag denotes those who do not enjoy Joey's music or who do not support him. Also refers to those who are only interested in being around Joey due to his fame and fortune. Example: <haters>Closed-minded men</haters>


The hip hop tag always refers to a rapper or rap group, but these references occur in several ways: directly referencing a song or artist name (this example refers to a song by rapper Rick Ross entitled BMF: Blowing Money Fast); Example: <hiphop ref="RickRoss">BMF like Ross man</hiphop> indirectly referencing a figure in hip hop using symbolism and figurative language (this example refers to Joey's hip hop collective Pro Era, which has 47 closeknit members); Example: <hiphop ref="ProEra">47 friends in my circumference</hiphop> and references to figures in hip hop by quoting or paraphrasing another rapper's raps (this example shows Joey rapping lyrics from Jay-Z's Song Cry). Example: <hiphop ref="Jay-Z">I couldn't see it coming down my eye</hiphop>
<hiphop ref="Jay-Z">So I hat to make the song cry</hiphop>


This tag denotes a reference to a historical event or figure (including figures in ancient mythology). Example: <history>Underground Railroad</history>


This tag is used to mark any references to money, divided into two qualifications, pursuit of money and possession of money. example of pursuit of money: Example: <money qual="pursuit">plotting on that dime</money> example of possession of money: Example: <money qual="possession">pockets healthy</money>


This tag marks a reference or phrase indicating that Joey is talking about things that invoke nostalgia and hearken back to past times. Example: <oldschool>back in the days</oldschool>

Pop Culture

The popculture tag denotes a reference to a pop culture entity, whether blatantly: Example: <popculture ref="Twitter">Twitter</popculture> or indirectly: Example: <popculture ref="JackSparrow">jack the booty like I'm Sparrow</popculture>


The power tag marks figures and ideas that have power/control in society, such as police: Example: <power>jakes</power> or racism: Example: <power>Jim Crow Laws</power>


The religion tag here is reflective of the spiritual beliefs found in the lyrics of our corpus. In some cases this refers to Christian ideas: Example: <religion>God bless the heaven</religion> while in other cases this tag marks references to third eye spiritualism: Example: <religion>on some third eye shit</religion>


This tag marks references to a sexual act, whether tacit and blatant. Example: <sex>bacchanalian</sex> This example, bacchanalian, is a word for 'drunken orgy' that comes from an ancient Greek festival celebrating Bacchus, god of wine.


This tag marks all sports references. The sports tag can refer to an athlete or sports figure: Example: <sports>Al Pujols</sports> as well as to general sports-related terms and objects: Example: <sports>hoops</sports>


The purpose of this tag is to indicate any raps that talk about the difficulties of life at various stages of life and wealth. Example: <struggle>And I'm from the blocks where they sell</struggle>


This tag indicates either Joey's pursuit of or possession of success. This comes in a variety of colorful expressions that are all quite varied. an example of possession of success is the boast: Example: <success qual="possession">I'm killin' this shit</success> while an example of pursuit of success is the statement that Joey will continue to work hard until he gets to the point where he is famous enough to be on Jay-Z's radar, and wealthy enough to afford to purchase a Range Rover for his mother. Example: <success qual="pursuit">Won't stop 'til I meet Hova and my momma's in a Rover</success>


The violence tag is used to denote any indication of violent behavior, both from Joey and his people and simply generally in the hood. Example: <violence>Rip your lips off your mouth</violence>


This tag is used to mark any instance where Joey discusses marijuana-related activities. Example: <weed>exotic piff</weed>


This tag marks references to women, and is divided into two groups using qualifiers positive and negative, which label the connotation of the marked word or phrase. an example of women negative: Example: <women qual="neg">bitches</women> an example of women positive: Example: <women qual="pos">Mama</women>


Poetic Devices

Joey Bada$$ employs a number of poetic devices throughout his lyrics, the six devices that this project is concerned with are as follows, alliteration, assimilation, assonance, consonance,rhyme, and slant rhyme. Prior to delving into the criteria for each of the six devices, it should be noted that the process of interpreting poetic devices is not an exact science. Unfortunately, as with any other type of interpretation of data, there may be cases in which arguments could be made in favor of an alternative label for a given poetic device. This possibility of differing interpretations can be largely attributed to the manner in which one hears a rappers "delivery" of their lyrics (voice inflection, stressing of particular syllables, etc.). However, listening to a given rappers flow still allows one to interpret and categorize the type of poetic device used more accurately than simply reading the lyrics online.

Pointer System

Given the intricate nature of Joey Bada$$'s use of various poetic devices, the poetic analysis of this project first needed to develop a markup system that would adequately account for the complex nature of poetry within Joey's lyrical corpus. We settled on giving each poetic element, within its corresponding poetic device group, a @num attribute, the value of which is its position within the group. The value of each attribute is numerical, in order of all tags with which the poetic bond exists. For example, within a group consisting of five tags, if tag 1 and tag 3 rhyme, tag 1 will have a @rhyme="3" attribute and tag 3 will have a @rhyme="1" attribute. If tags 1 and 3 also rhyme with tags 6 and 9, tag 1 would have a @rhyme="3 6 9" attribute, tag 3 would have a @rhyme="1 6 9" attribute, and so on. Sample markup from the project has been provided at the bottom of this page.


A poetic device in which there is a repetition of the first consonant in a series of multiple words.
e.g. "pride is higher than the prices on your Pradas"


A poetic device in which one word becomes more phonologically similar to at least one other word, esentially the rappers delivery of the words produces a transformation in which the previously dissimilar words now seem to rhyme.
e.g. And I know the landlord fed up with our lies
So we pray to the Gods, the Jahs, and the Allahs
To keep us safe and watch our lives.


A poetic device in which words near each other have a repetition of a vowel in nonrhyming stressed syllables.
e.g. Tend this racket while I'm cracking a Serena.


A poetic device in which words near each other have a repetition of a consonants in nonrhyming stressed syllables.
e.g. Show's too turnt out return home burnt out


A poetic device in which there is a correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words.
e.g. I know she always think of little me, but now I got big literally
Worldwide and physically
I'm saying I used to take walks around Little Italy
Now I roam 'round Sicily
And I'm plotting on a milli

Slant Rhyme:

A poetic device in which a rhyme is formed by words with similar but not identical sounds. Typically, either the vowels are different while the consonants are identical, or the consonants are different while the vowels are identical.
e.g. But it's definite I spit more than speech impediments
Brooklyn's the residence, the best and it's evident

Example Poetic Markup:

<li>It's all a <group label="a" num="1" alliteration="2" >hidden</group> <group label="a" num="2" alliteration="1" rhyme="3 4 6" >history</group>, and <group label="a" num="3" rhyme="2 4 6" >mysteries</group></li>
<li>I see <group label="a" num="4" rhyme="2 3 6">vividly</group>, <group label="a" num="5" slantRhyme="7" >hysteria</group></li>
<li>Cause <group label="a" num="6" rhyme="2 3 4">misery</group> on the <group label="a" num="7" slantRhyme="5" rhyme="8 9 11" >interior</group></li>
<li>Shit gets more <group label="a" num="8" rhyme="7 9 11" >scarier</group>, I'm <group label="a" num="9" rhyme="7 8 11">never</group> <group label="a" num="10" assimilation="11">in fear</group></li>
<li>Just a little <group label="a" num="11" assimilation="10" rhyme="7 8 9">inferior</group> in <group label="a" num="12" assimilation="14">some areas</group></li>
<li>But I <group label="a" num="13" rhyme="15">share</group>, wisdom with <group label="a" num="14" assimilation="12" >Sumerians</group></li>
<li><group label="a" num="15" rhyme="13">Somewhere</group> we in the place</li>