Geography project


We all know New York was where Hip-Hop was born. There are various genesis stories (normally including DJ Kool Herc), but they all begin with block parties somewhere in the 5 boroughs.

You will hear artists bragging about their ‘hood in their songs, for example Nas’s Queensbridge, MOP’s Brownsville, or Redman’s Brick City. So I thought I might try to find all those places using Google Maps.

As I was building the discography project I was generating a list of artists. So, it just became an admin effort to gather where artists call ‘home’.

For some, like Nas, MOP and Redman, above, it is really easy. They literally don’t stop talking about their home-town/block. Others are more problematic.

For example, Slick Rick. Rick the Ruler was born in London, but moved to The Bronx. It was in NYC that he developed as an artist, so I have included there. 2Pac is another difficult one: he was the epitome of West Coast Hip Hop, but was Harlem born-and-raised.

Groups are even more difficult. Wu-Tang Clan all hail from various parts of New York City, but they formed in Staten Island. Take for example Foreign Exchange, the collaboration between Phonte (from North Carolina) and Nicolay (based in the Netherlands), was conducted entirely over the internet. Phonte and Nicolay hadn’t actually met when they released their first album. If I took an average, they would appear somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. In cases like this, I decided to choose the MC over the DJ, and if there were more than one MC, I would choose the lead MC (if there is one).

The Results

so far…

I realised that as I am missing a lot of west-coast rappers work as I update my data.


  • You can scroll through some different graphs using the arrows in the bottom-left
  • If you hover/click on a densely populated area, you will see a close up
  • Clicking on the data points show location and metric (average score for the area, or number of artists/albums released)

If you have any more suggestions of analyses, let me know.