Rap Stats and the relevance of the DJ in Hip Hop

Rap Stats technics midi

If the urban street slang employed by Hip Hop luminaries makes little or no sense to you, then head to Rap Genius. And to compliment their vast library of rap lyrics, they’ve compiled a list of how often keywords were used and when. I hadn’t really paid it any attention until this morning, when my old buddy Mr Trick posted an all too poignant visual reminder via Rap Stats on the relationship between DJs and rappers.

From my own personal point of view, the stuff we see in the charts is Rap, a derivative of Hip Hop that essentially strips out 3 of the 4 elements to leave Rap i.e. the most commercial and bankable element that has a face and a voice. DJs have become little more than props to most Rap megastars, and rolled out as nothing more than visual aids to legitimise themselves to the Hip Hop culture.

Need evidence? I put a few choice DJ related words into Rap Stats and got back some disturbing charts.

Keyword: DJ

Rap Stats (1)

Keyword: Turntable

Rap Stats (2)

Keyword: Technics

Rap Stats (3)

Keyword: CDJ

Rap Stats (4)

Keyword: MIDI

Rap Stats (5)

What do these Rap Stats tell us?

I don’t think they tell us anything that we didn’t already know to be honest. The first Hip Hop DJs used to provide the backing tracks for the rappers, a role that eventually saw them more in the studio than on stage. And now you don’t even have to be a DJ to be making beats — that is very much in the court of producers, many of whom probably only use a turntable to sample.

We shouldn’t read too much into this of course. For all we know, the rise of the MIDI and CDJ keywords could simply be rappers dissing people who use such things and not extolling the virtues of hot cues and sync. But the steady erosion of DJ and turntable from the rapper’s lyrical flow absolutely does remind us that while it was the DJ that built the foundation of what we generically call Hip Hop, their relevance in the modern Rap era is going the way of the mighty Technics.