Actual Fact uses the Rap Research Lab’s “Hiphop Word Count” database to encourage scholarship and research on hip-hop data and society.

Sameer Rao

ColorLines, June 1, 2016 —

Colorlines Screenshot of a “Hiphop Word Count” map, taken from YouTube on June 1, 2016.

The Bronx-based Rap Research Lab launched a new website today (June 1) that provides a visual analysis of hip-hop lyrics. The project, called Actual Fact, is meant to support research on hip-hop data—and the Lab is looking for collaborators.

Actual Fact is “an exhibition of data visualization and critical writing produced with data extracted from rap lyrics.” It employs the “Hiphop Word Count” database, which creator and Lab founder Tahrir Hemphill describes in a video profile as “an online searchable database that analyzes the language in hip-hop and looks at hip-hop as a cultural indicator.” It contains data from the lyrics of more than 100,000 hip-hop songs dating back to 1979.


Now, Hemphill seeks collaborators—especially writers and creative technologists—to help grow the Actual Fact project and create community around big data. Check out to learn more about the project and how you can contribute.