Apr 2016 Dallas Morning News
It's crunch time in English 3347, only two weeks to go in the semester, and University of Texas at Arlington professor Kenton Rambsy is urging his class to buckle down. "This is our jam, everybody," he says calmly. "We're training ourselves to become better thinkers and writers. We have to be like LeBron in the fourth quarter."
This is definitely not your mother's English class. For one, there's the subject: Jay Z, the multimillionaire hip-hop mogul and husband of Lemonade-sipping superstar Beyoncé. Then there's the method. While Rambsy and his class of 30 students parse Jay's lyrics for meaning, they also spend a lot of time crunching numbers and presenting the results in graphs, pie charts and other data tools.
Call it "Big Pimpin'" meets Big Data. In analyzing the stats, Rambsy and his students seek to find the quantifiable elements of Jay's work, from the number of slant rhymes in his lyrics to the geographic locale of the artists he samples. It's a digital humanities course with a hip-hop flavor.