Riding Dirty: The Science of Cars and Rap Lyrics

What’s the most popular ride in hip-hop? To find out, we turned to data science.


Fancy cars have always been an important element in rap music. You can find many articles online talking about what cars rappers love the most, but they all lack the research, running their mouth with no backing evidence. Is rappers’ preferred ride Cadillac, Mercedes, Bentley, or Ferrari? Let’s turn to data science to settle this debate once and for all. By analyzing all lyrics on Rap Genius, we’ll see which rides have been celebrated the most. Check the results...

Car Makes and Models in Rap Songs

As seen from the chart, the most frequently mentioned car make is Mercedes Benz. Rappers love to rap about their benzes, but they rarely mention what models. If we get down to the specific model that’s most frequently mentioned, there’s no debate — it’s the Chevy Impala, most specifically the ’64 year model.

Car Popularity Over Time

Digging deeper to look at songs released throughout the years, the following is a time series analysis to see which makes have gained popularity and which have lost favor. An interesting correlation here is a dip for some of the most frequently mentioned luxury car makes around 2008, 2009 financial crisis. Shout out to Johnny McNulty at Someecards who have some interesting analysis around the trend’s correlation with economy here.

Click to see interactive chart on Tableau.

The chart above is an overall view. We’ll break it into several categories in the following:

Top 3 Makes

There were more mentions of Cadillac relative to Chevrolet between 1997 to 2006, but the trend inverted since 2007. Benz managed to stay on top most of the time, except between 2004 and 2007 where it was briefly surpassed by Cadillac.

Makes Gaining Popularity Over Time

The following are makes that have been on an upward trend over the years. Worth noting that Porsche, Ferrari, Maybach, and Bugatti peaked around 2012/2013 but have declined since.

Makes Losing Popularity Over Time

The following are makes that have declined or maintain the same level of mentions in rap songs over time. Due to the increase in rap songs released over the years, these are makes that are losing popularity amongst the artists. Jeep and Hummer serve similar functions and have very similar levels of mentions across time. Lexus was extremely popular around 1998, but has since lost steam.

Endorsements

Some major car companies benefit from rappers as endorsers, a task the rappers often take on voluntarily. But who is doing the best job as pitchman? Seeing song mentions as a form of endorsement, the following is an analysis of the top endorsers.

Turns out The Game dominates the car endorsement game. The Compton artist wins the category hands down for seven of the major car makes, having logged more automobile mentions than any other rapper. The following are The Game’s most-endorsed cars, in order of frequency:

Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet Impala

Chevy mentioned in 93 of The Game’s songs, 82 of them mention Impala. His love for Impala is expressed in his song “In My 64.”


Mercedes Benz

Mercedes Benz C63 AMG

Mentioned in 75 of The Game’s songs, such as “We are the Hustlaz”: Cartier lenses, 22's on my Benz’s / When shit break out, y’all hit the fences


Lamborghini

Lamborghini Murcielago

Mentioned in 53 of The Game’s songs, including “Black Jesus”: Pull up on you in that Maybach coupe, hop out, tape pursuit / Lamborghini merci beaucoup, mwah!


Porsche

Porsche 918

Mentioned in 34 of The Game’s songs, such as “Astronaut Pussy Welcome To California”: Stand from grandmother’s porch to my executive Porsche


Aston Martin

Aston Martin One-77

Mentioned in 24 of The Game’s songs, including “Purp and Yellow”: Ten car caravan Aston Martin’s and all them hood whips / Them Cutlass’ them Cadillacs’ that leather be grippin’ them wood tips.


Maserati

Maserati Coupe

Mentioned in 18 of The Game’s songs, including “Change Your Life”: You know I ride smooth, that Maserati sick / I need a parachute, baby I'm high as shit


Bugatti

Bugatti Veyron

Mentioned in 13 of The Game’s songs, including “Scream on Em”: I black out like February, back out what's necessary / Oh-seven Bugatti with Jimmy Iovine's secretary.


The following are other makes and their respective top endorsers, showing rappers’ ongoing passion for luxury and super cars.

Bentley Gets Most Love From Gucci Mane

Bentley Continental

Mentioned in 72 of Gucci Mane’s songs, such as “Dope Show”: They say I’m getting skinny but all of my blunts stuffed / Ain’t nuthin’ skinny but them skinnies on my Bentley truck


Ferrari Gets Most Love From Gucci Mane

Ferrari LaFerrari

Mentioned in 61 of Gucci Mane’s songs, such as “Super Cocky”: Twin ferraris got em thinking I'm down with illuminati


Maybach Gets Most Love From from Rick Ross

Maybach Exelero

Mentioned in 54 of Rick Ross’ songs, his love for the luxury brand is expressed in “Maybach Music.”


Cadillac Gets Most Love From from Chamillionaire

Cadillac El Dorado

Mentioned in 47 of Chamillionaire’s songs, his love for it is expressed in “Cadillac & Benz.”


Jaguar Gets Most Love From from Lil Flip

Jaguar XJ220

Mentioned in 30 of Lil Flip’s songs, such as “Haters”: We ride on blades we ride on glass / And we got TVs inside our Jags


Audi Gets Most Love From from Migos

Audi R8

Mentioned in 29 of Migos’ songs, such as “Contraband”: Audi R8 creepin’, like a tarantula / Making moves, spectacular


Lexus Gets Most Love From from Big Tymers

Lexus LFA

Mentioned in 26 of Big Tymers’ songs, such as Ballin’: Lexus wit the blue stripe / Can you take that Apollo with the white ass pipes


Hummer Gets Most Love From from Big Tymers & Gucci Mane

Hummer H2

Mentioned in 24 songs from Big Tymers as well as Gucci Mane, such as “#1 Stunna” and “16 Fever”: Baby, Brian, B, Bubba — you can call me what you feel / Hoppin’ out the platinum Hummer with the platinum grill


Jeep Gets Most Love From from Nas

Jeep

Mentioned in 24 of Nas’ songs, such as “The Message”: I peeped you frontin’ / I was in the Jeep sunk in the seat / Tinted with heat, beats bumpin’


BMW Gets Most Love From from Action Bronson

BMW M3

Mentioned in 22 of Action Bronson’s songs, such as “No Time”: See me in a Bimmer, see you in a Civic, uh


Aside from endorsement of luxury, super, and muscle cars, you may have noticed the chart up top also shows a frequent mention of Hearse, the funerary car. Mentions of it are not endorsements, but rather in reference to death, such as:

A traditional Hearse

Now in my world will it get worse. When I been trapped since birth / But I had to sleep in a hearse — 2 Pac “The Good Die Young

One of my worst fears, is being stuffed in a hearse / Six feet deep getting crushed by the dirt — CamronDo it Again


Artists With Most Car Mentions

A different way to view the data is to see which rappers have released the most songs that mention cars. The following is a table of artists that have mentioned cars in more than half of their songs, sorted by the number of songs. Not surprisingly, a lot of the artists are endorsers listed above.


To wrap this up, the following are a couple more crazy details relating to cars frequently mentioned in rap songs:

Lowrider

Pimping the car up with hydraulic pumps. Mentioned in 306 songs, most referred to by The Game and Snoop.

Ghost Riding

Originated in the Bay Area, the act of cranking up the volume, dancing to the beat while the car slowly cruises down the street with no driver. Mentioned in 42 songs, most referred to by The Game, Mistah F.A.B, and Mac Dre.


What are your favorite car references in hip-hop?
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