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Case Study: “Cheddar” in hip-hop

There's no denying the impact and influence music has on culture. A study by the Department of Linguistics in Alberta cited that hip-hop music has a strong influence on our every day language.

This left me wondering: how do language trends in music change over time? If we analyze lyrical data, will we be able to see these spikes and dips in particular words? Given my own minor obsession with hip-hop music, I decided to investigate a term I hear frequently in the hip-hop world: CHEDDAR.


“Everything that hip-hop touches is transformed by the encounter, especially things like language… which leaves [it] open to constant redefinition.”
— Jay-Z

Hypothesis

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The use of the term “cheddar” in rap songs has slowly declined since the early 2000’s.

This is due to the increase in other slang terms for money, such as bread, lettuce, benjamins, broccoli, dough, moolah, dead presidents, and paper. I see a ~ food ~ trend here.


Analysis

 

Using Genius.com, I ran a search query for the term “cheddar.” You can search via songs, artists, or lyrics. I focused on analyzing the lyrics, where the term was mentioned. I analyzed 900 songs from over 2 decades, then recorded the date each song was released. All data was captured in a good ole’ Google Sheets.

 
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Results

usage of “cheddar” in hip-hop songs

Data collected from Genius.com


Most notable

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The year of cheddar

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Conclusion

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The term “cheddar” is still widely used in modern day hip-hop songs.

My original hypothesis was proven wrong. Turns out, rappers still love to use the “cheddar” to describe the stacks of money they have. Another theory is that Genius.com has an increased data set with newer music, so the data may is skewed.

Whatever the case may be, I’m 100% here for continuing to use food terminology to describe money. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯