Kanye vs. Code? Rapping computer is almost ready to battle

By using some network architecture that's sick, this rapping code knows the best rhymes to pick.

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Eric Mack
3 min read

Last time I crawled out from underneath my rock, it seemed normcore was beginning to replace nerdcore, but for those who still believe in sick, algorithmically derived beats, I've found a new rapper who's about as O.G. as they come.

The network architecture of a rapper. Malmi, et al.

DeepBeat is an algorithm for generating rap lyrics developed by Eric Malmi and his colleagues at Aalto University in Finland, and its first composition is at least coherent, if not quite club-worthy, despite a few odd oedipal overtones.

DeepBeat isn't composing new flows from scratch, however. Instead, its creators basically deconstructed what makes a good rap and identified the dopest rappers, then scraped all their lyrics from a database to feed into the algorithm.

DeepBeat takes individual lines from existing rap songs and then attempts to determine which other line from its database would make the most sense to follow it, stringing together an entire song like lyrical Legos in this fashion.

All the dirrrty, dirrrty Scandinavian details on how this is done with ones and zeros is outlined in the team's research paper available as of this week (PDF) on Cornell's Arxiv website. At the core of DeepBeat, though, is the conviction cited by the study authors that "[Multisyllabic rhymes] are hallmarks of all the dopest flows, and all the best rappers use them." This benchmark actually comes from the "Rapper's Handbook." Yes, seriously.

The team ranked dozens of English-language rappers by their rhyme density (more multi-syllabic rhymes gets you a higher score), fed their lyrics into DeepBeat and then gave it the goal of using pieces of those rappers' lyrics to spit its own extra-dense rhymes.

Here's one resulting song created when DeepBeat was asked to "write" something based on the keyword "love" and strung together lines from rappers including Big Daddy Kane, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Common and Li'l Wayne, among others:

For a chance at romance I would love to enhance
But everything I love has turned to a tedious task
One day we gonna have to leave our love in the past
I love my fans but no one ever puts a grasp
I love you momma I love my momma - I love you momma
And I would love to have a thing like you on my team you take care
I love it when it's sunny Sonny girl you could be my Cher
I'm in a love affair I can't share it ain't fair
Haha I'm just playin' ladies you know I love you.
I know my love is true and I know you love me too
Girl I'm down for whatever cause my love is true
This one goes to my man old dirty one love we be swigging brew
My brother I love you Be encouraged man And just know
When you done let me know cause my love make you be like WHOA
If I can't do it for the love then do it I won't
All I know is I love you too much to walk away though

Not bad, although the algorithm clearly misses some of the finer points of slang and pop culture references -- is it saying it wants to be like Sonny and Cher with its mother?

Seems like DeepBeat could use a little tutelage from someone with a little more experience before stepping up for its first mic battle. Might I suggest this rapping Australian doctor whose rhymes about understanding skin cancer are pretty tight for an emcee in scrubs?

(Via MIT Technology Review)