“Where Brooklyn at?” is no longer simply a phrase to garner automatic applause at live hip hop shows in the New York area. It’s a genuine cause of concern, as the use of the word “Brooklyn” in rap lyrics has dramatically decreased since peaking in 1992 and 1993. The New York borough now accounts for only 0.00487 percent of rap lyrics in 2014. This statistic has been possible thanks to Rap Stats, a clever and useful new feature at Genius, the social media/lyrics site that collects and furiously annotates the words to thousands of rap and rock songs. “Until now,” says Genius in its official announcement, “you haven’t been able to look at the development of the genre through its building blocks: the actual words used by emcees.”
While this is legitimately a boon to music historians, sociologists, and fans, Rap Stats also has the potential to be a great Internet time-waster and argument settler. Users can run any words they choose through Genius’ search engine, even searching for multiple terms simultaneously by separating them with commas. Those running low on imagination can use the site’s “shuffle” feature and search for terms pre-selected by Genius, including “gin, juice” (both way down since the 1990s) and “east side, west side” (with West narrowly besting East but both terms staying virtually tied for years of ups and downs).