The last place I’d expect to find a music article would be Nature, a weekly science journal. But that’s exactly where my best friend John, a grad student at UCLA, pointed out a story to me about the social networks of rappers.
In short, Reginald Smith of the Sloan School of Management at MIT “mapped out the network of the rapping community by processing data from online rap and hip-hop archives.” From a collection of 6,552 rappers and over 30,000 songs, Smith discovered that rappers – because of their collaborative nature – are separated by 2.9 degrees of separation. “In this respect, rap exhibits the same spirit as early jazz, where musicians had on average less than two degrees of separation,” the story states.
Also worth noting is that well-to-do rappers tend not to associate or collaborate with those similar to themselves, a trend unlike other human networks. “Smith suggests that this might be partly due to commercial competition between successful artists, who are reluctant to lend their cachet to a rival.”
Smith’s study is filled with frightening equations and algorithms that my pea brain just can’t grasp. But in layman’s terms, Snoop Dogg (natch) claims the crown as most-connected rapper.
Whatever the case, I think we’re on to a new Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game here: 2.9 Degrees of Snoop Dogg. In the spirit of this article, I’m going to toss out quite the appropriate song – Leaders of the New School: Spontaneous (13 MCs Deep!).
How many degrees will it take to connect to Snoop? It’s helpful to know that the most recognizable emcee on this track is Busta Rhymes. (Get the rest here.) … Game on!
Leaders of the New School | Spontaneous (13 MCs Deep!)