Do crime rates and rap lyrics about crime rates rise and fall in tandem?

The Rap Research Lab is a project for high school students in the Bronx, founded by Tahir Hemphill (who himself built a searchable database of decades worth of hip hop lyrics). Students in the lab just published their final projects. In this one, Emmanuel Khodra decided to compare crime in rap lyrics to actual crime rates. "Emmanuel compiled a list of names of crimes and added to that slang names for crimes which I ran through my applet to search for the occurrences in lyrics," Hemphill tells us. "He then compared that with actual crime statistics for the same period."

His findings: "The data showed very little correlation between the crimes in the lyrics and their counterparts. For example, a significant crime drop between 1993 and 1995 is easily seen while crimes mentioned in rap lyrics are steadily increasing."

Suck it, Rev. Calvin Butts.

All of the Rap Research Lab projects can be found here.

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