Study: Eminem has largest vocabulary in music

Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

At first glance, it might not be readily apparent, but Detroit rapper Eminem is an erudite logophile whose megagaltastic talent cannot be denied.

Translation: He uses a lot of different words in his lyrics.

That’s the finding of a study by Musixmatch, which has declared that Eminem is Number Uno when it comes to the number of words used in songs by 93 of the best selling artists of all time as listed by Wikipedia.

The study, which compiled the total number of words in each artists’ repertoire, found that Marshall Bruce Mathers II (the rhymer’s real name, moniker, cognomen, nom de guerre, agnomen) has a vocabulary of 8,818 words.

On average, he uses a word he has never previously used every 11 words. The average vocabulary size is 2,677 words, with 40 of the 93 artists having a vocabulary size of within 400 words of that total.

Filling out the top five verbal artistes behind His Rapperness are: Jay Z (6,899 words), Tupac Shakur (6,569), Kanye West (5,069) and Bob Dylan (4,883).

By way of contrast, the Beatles ranked 76th on the list with a vocabulary of 1,872 words. Despite the rock opera Tommy, The Who came in 86th with 1,794 words just ahead of Shania Twain and New Kids on the Block.

The artist with the smallest vocabulary?

Kenny G with 893 words, but everyone should remember (recall, bear in mind, recollect and recognize) that he is a saxophonist who mainly produces instrumental recordings that all sound alike.

Time to read the fine print: Bruce Springsteen, Chicago, Def Leppard, Journey, the Beach Boys and The Doors didn’t grant permission to Musixmatch to use their lyrics so they couldn’t be included in the analysis.

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