Italian website waxes lyrical over Jay-Z

Italian website waxes lyrical over Jay-Z
Talented wordsmith Jay-Z. Photo:Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Live Nation/AFP
American rapper Jay-Z may have 99 problems but vocabulary sure ain't one of them.

Italian website Musixmatch – calling itself “the world's largest lyrics catalogue” – has hailed rappers Eminem and Jay-Z as the craftiest wordsmiths among music's top sellers.

According to the site, the rappers use the most unique words in their tunes, beating out master lyricists like Bob Dylan.   

Researchers Varun Jewalikar and Nash Vail studied the lyrics of 93 chart-topping musicians encompassing 25 different musical genres including hip-hop, hard rock, country and reggae.

The company has access to more than seven million songs in more than 48 languages, so Jewalikar and Vail had a rich musical bank to work from.

Because many of the artists had careers that spanned decades – and the song catalogue to prove it – the two researchers chose the 100 “densest” songs of each artist.

The big winner was Eminem, who used 8,818 unique words in his 100 densest songs, compared to the general average of 2,677.

The Detroit rapper of “Lose Yourself” and “Sing for the Moment” fame also wins for most words used in one song on average — with a staggering 1,018 words.

Behind Eminem was “Empire of State of Mind” writer Jay-Z, using just under 7,000 words in his songs. Late lyrical rapper Tupac Shakur came in third with 6,569 words.

Bob Dylan, with 4,883 words, came in fifth after Kanye West who scored 5,069.

Some top-sellers such as Bruce Springsteen, Chicago and Def Leppard were left out because Musixmatch is not authorised to use their lyrics.

More words doesn't equal more success, though. Artists who sold the most albums, like the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson had some of the lowest scores of unique words.