UC Berkeley Students Discovered the Formula Behind Every Popular Rap Song

A trio of nerdy hip-hop heads at UC Berkely just publicized their Rap Analysis Project, a scientific and statistical analysis of rap’s most popular hits over the past 25 years.

They utilized Rap Genius to dissect a data set of rap songs that made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart from 1985 to 2015, in hopes of learning what it takes to make it a hit. They then used their findings and various algorithms to create a tool that can determine whether or not any given song was a hit. (The tool has a 71% accuracy rate.)

Essentially, these guys uncovered the formula behind any popular hip-hop song. Struggle rappers, take notes.

Timing is Key

To introduce their findings, the team created a chart that visualizes the emergence of rap songs onto the Billboard chart over the past 25 years. Not surprisingly, rap music has become more present over time, but what’s more illuminating is the time of year hip-hop is more likely to be popular: During the fall of 2014, there was more rap music living on the Hot 100 than any other time of the year.

Cars + Tech = $$$

Bentley and Apple were tied for the most talked-about brands in hip-hop, with Porsche, Chevy, Maybach and Twitter following closely behind.

Rap Game Socrates

Lifestyle is the most popular theme in hip-hop by a long shot. But what else are hit makers talking about? Revolution, war, and philosophy are apparently common themes among the past two decades’ most popular rap songs.

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