I have long thought of myself as the best rapper ever.

Well, that’s the abbreviation. I used to say I am the best rapper ever dead, alive, or imagined; just to be absolutely clear. For an equal amount of time other rappers have been upset with me having the audacity to declare that about myself. I never understood that.

I’ve always looked at it as, I’m the best rapper ever because I do what I like better than anyone else. I’ve also felt that any rapper that doesn’t feel that way should either quit or take it upon themselves to do what it takes in order for them to feel that way about themselves and their art. As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to understand that not everyone operates the same way with respect to self-motivation and performance, but it was always a very simple concept to me.

To that end, the things that love about rapping are also some of the more difficult things to do like complex multisyllabic rhyme schemes, extended metaphors, multiple entendres, and dynamic flows. So, it always was able for me to reinforce my thinking about being the best, because those things are quantifiable and I knew I tried harder than most other rappers. After all, trying hard in rap is considered uncool.

Ain't No Best

The objective reality, however, is that there truly is no best rapper ever. Although, you can ask 1,000 people who’s the best at a given moment and a high percentage can make a case for Jay Z, Nas, Rakim, Lil Wayne, etc. You can also make a case for anyone else, really, because best is a completely subjective idea.

And really, subjectivity is the beauty of it. Anyone can like who they like for whatever reason they want. If you feel Insane Clown Posse is the best rap group of all time, no one can stop you. 

On the intro to “Lyrical Exercise” Jay Z makes his case for why he’s the GOAT. He declares emphatically that he’s leading the league in several statistical categories and then rattles off a series of subjective and qualitative measures as to why he’s the best. While the analysis is a bit undercooked, he’s right, he is quantifiably the best rapper based on a lot of the ways one might measure the success of rappers.

But what measures actually matter in a world where we are trying to quantify and predict everything all the time?

Men Lie. Women Lie. Numbers don't.

Commercial success certainly matters if you’re swimming in the mainstream, but what if you’re all about the art? Bars and beats matter if you care about lyrics, but what if you just want something you can dance to? How do you objectively determine who the best rapper ever is? is our attempt to get to the bottom of the question of who is the GOAT using data science and building models that continually predict the rise and fall of hiphop’s elite.

Let’s figure it out together. Stay tuned as we build our models and tell data-driven stories about what it takes to be the best rapper ever.