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I Tracked the #hiphop Hashtag on Twitter for Over 2 Years. Here’s What I Learned.


In hindsight, this was a dumb thing to do.

Over 2 years ago I started tracking the #hiphop hashtag on Twitter. It’s been so long that I forgot my exact intentions when I started tracking it. I think I was just curious to see who was using the hashtag most frequently and what else I could learn about what people were posting.

To get as much information as possible, I used the paid hashtag insights service I signed up at $6ish a month to track the hashtag.

Then, I forgot about it.

Occasionally, I would spot an email and think “shit I need to check and cancel that”.

Then I would forget again.

About a year ago I offered the data to HIPHOPDX and after a few emails, they didn’t get back to me.

About 4 months ago, I finally decided that enough was enough, I needed to cancel the service. However, I didn’t want my money to be completely wasted. At very least, I wanted to see the data I had collected for nearly 2 and a half years.

I logged in to and the site crashed.

This happened multiple times.

Eventually, I emailed their support team. The problem? The #hiphop hashtag that I had been tracking had collected more data than anyone else that uses their service.

I had collected data on over 16,400,000 MILLION Tweets.

I was very lucky. After about 50 different attempts at collecting the data, it eventually all loaded. I was scared to turn off my computer and so I kept it on for a week and a half. I took a bunch of screenshots which all feature in this post.

I haven’t been able to load the data again, since.

#hiphop Hashtag Summary

hiphop hashtag summary

128.77 BILLION total impressions. That’s the total number of times Tweets containing the #hiphop hashtag would have been viewed.

In summary, this data shows that the #hiphop hashtag is used very frequently, has great reach but, perhaps is not used by as many daily users as you might expect.

Sentiment and Engagement

#hiphop sentiment and engagement


The first dial above shows the sentiment of the #hiphop hashtag. In short, this looks at a range of keywords that are used in conjunction with #hiphop and decides whether they are positive, negative or neutral in sentiment. At 85% positive, the sentiment surrounding this hashtag is hugely positive.

I was pleasantly surprised by this, as there are so many negative things often associated with hip-hop. I thought it would be a lot more neutral.

One possible explanation for the sentiment being so positive is that a lot of people using the hashtag are promoting their own work (music, blogs, clothing etc). As you’ll see later in the article, this theory is perhaps justified as we can see that a small selection of users are heavily using the hashtag in conjunction with Tweets about their own music and services.


The engagement dial considers all of the Tweets containing the hashtag that were either Retweeted or received a reply via an @mention. I think 57% engagement is actually pretty high considering the number of Tweets that are sent out on a daily basis. However, what I have also found whilst undertaking this research is that there are a lot of people who appear to be using automated software within the hip-hop community on Twitter. A lot of people appear to have set up automated Retweets for some of the frequent #hiphop hashtag users referenced later in this post. So in short, I am pretty confident that the engagement rate is inflated by the use of marketing automation in this culture. “Marketing automation” in this sense, is just spam.

As a side note, having previously used a lot of automated Twitter tools in the past I can say that hip-hop artists and professionals were using this type of software really early in comparison to other industries. This is not necessarily a good thing, though.

What this seems to have sparked, particularly over the last two years, is a wave of artists and publicists on Twitter who are excessively self-promoting through automated Twitter tools.

Just one personal observation is that for me, this has actually devalued the importance of the #hiphop hashtag over time. I remember joining Twitter back in 09/10 and I used to have a feed set up to monitor people that were using #hiphop. I used to use this as a way to curate and keep track of all the key things in the culture. Now, I don’t use it at all because of all the automated Tweets and self-promotional spam.

This is not a complaint, as I too have been guilty of contributing to the spamming of this hashtag in the past. This is just an observation of how much my own use and behaviour on Twitter has changed as a result of it’s increasing popularity.

Most Popular Days

Most Tweets

#hiphop most tweets

The #hiphop hashtag was most used on May 17th, 2014.

I did a little research and honestly, I have no clue why this was such a popular day.

As a reminder, this was a few days after Solange tried to kick the shit out of Jay Z in the elevator and a few days after the BET Hip-Hop Award nominees of 2014 were announced.

If you’ve got any ideas on what happened in hip-hop around this time that may have caused this spike in hashtag use, please do drop me an email.

Most Active Users

#hiphop most active users

On 22nd January 2014, more unique users than ever used the #hiphop hashtag.

Why? Again, no idea. I am terrible at research. I told you this was dumb.

This was around the time Miser Cee spoke with GQ magazine about being gay, or bisexual… or something.

I don’t think this was huge news, though.

Positive and Negative Sentiment

The Most Positive Day in Hip-Hop?

#hiphop most positive

Ok, so we’re back on January 22nd, 2014.

I still don’t know what happened that day. I am gutted I missed it.

Lots of people were using the #hiphop hashtag and apparently, it was a pretty damn good day.

The Most Negative Day in Hip-Hop?

#hiphop most negative sentiment

The most negative sentiment associated with the #hiphop hashtag occurred on June 4th 2015 when 13.11% of Tweets had negative sentiment.

What happened this day?

GZA penned an open letter to hip-hop, noting that lyricism has gone.

Also, XXL released their 2015 Freshmen cover. Each year, the conversation on social media regarding this list gets more intense, and unsurprisingly there are a lot of people who don’t agree with XXL’s choices.

Most Active Days and Hours

#hiphop most active time

With a normal hashtag, the heatmap above would show us the days and times of the week when the #hiphop hashtag is most used.

Unfortunately, I think I broke the tool. I included this just because it made me smile, and it shows just how often this hashtag is being used.

Top Associated Hashtags

#hashtag cloud

This hashtag cloud shows the most frequently used hashtags alongside the #hiphop hashtag.

As you’d expect, there are lots of hashtags for associated genres of music.

It’s somewhat interesting to see #soundcloud appear. This is just a guess, but I suspect a lot of the users who are using automated Twitter tools are also using similarly available automation tools for Soundcloud. I suspect that these users are trying to direct people on Twitter to their Soundcloud profiles where they are also spamming the shit out of stuff.

Top Associated Words

#hiphop wordcloud

There’s a lot of further evidence here to suggest that users using the hashtag are mostly self-promoting their own music (get, new, single, listen, independent, up-n-coming, free).

At least they say “please”.

It’s interesting to see “Chronik” feature here. Chronik is a UK based MC. I’m guessing he or his team have used one of the available automation tools.

The one I was most surprised by was bumpin’. That made me feel uncomfortable inside.

I can’t lie. I remember sending out Tweets about music I was bumpin’.

Fuck, that feels horrible to say.

Ok, so, WHO has been using the #hiphop hashtag the most?

#hiphop hashtag users

I don’t know why I only have the top 9. Perhaps I had too much data for a top 10?

Anyway, here we can see the users who over the last 2 years or so have most frequently Tweeted using the #hiphop hashtag.

The only user I was really familiar with from this list was @djkingassassin. So, it was particularly interesting to see that @teamassassin also featured in position number 9.

Interestingly, @teamassassin now appears to be a Twitter account for a hip-hop duo called the BronxTwins.

I am not entirely sure what has happened. My guess is that either @djkingassassin built up a Twitter account and sold it, OR he was banned and the account was later made available and taken over by the BronxTwins.

These 9 users hold a huge 25% collective impression share for the #hiphop hashtag.

So, let’s take a look at these guys in a little more detail.

Before I get into this, I should note that I haven’t included all the data I have for each user detailed below and I won’t break down every single metric that’s referenced.

However, you should know that the terminology “on target” and “off target” references engagement. So, if a Tweet was sent and nobody engaged with it, that’s off target. If a Tweet results in a retweet or an @mention, it’s considered “on target”.


iam360wise summary

users mentioning iam360wiseiam360wise hashtags

I won’t go into all the details for this one, but it’s clear to see that our friend @iam360wise was automating all of their Twitter activity and had several accounts set up to mention each other and promote their own music.


dj king assassin summary

djkingassassin hashtags


djscrill summary

users mentioned and retweeted by djscrill

users mentioning djscrill

hashtags used by djscrill

I like #starvingartist :).

It would appear from the data above that it’s reasonable to assume both @djkingassassin and @djscrill know each other and are working together.


hiphopgoldenage summary

users mentioned and retweeted by hiphopgoldenage

users mentioning hiphopgoldenage

hiphopgoldenage hashtags

It would seem that hiphopgoldenage also took the mass, automated strategy with several other branded accounts all mentioning/RT’ing each other.


liondreamrecord overview

users mentioned by liondreamrecordusers mentioning liondreamrecord

hashtags used by liondreamrecord

Nothing too interesting here. Just crazy mad spamming of the hashtag.


mixshowblast overview

users mentioned by mixshowblast

users mentioning mixshowblast

hashtags used by mixshowblast

Interesting, both @djscrill and #djkingassassin appear once again. I haven’t looked into this but I suspect @mixshowblast is also an account owned by djkingassassin.


julianbeatscom overview

users mentioned by julianbeatscom

users mentioning julianbeatscom

hashtags used by julianbeatscom

Nothing too crazy here. Again, looks most likely this is a producer who is using the #hiphop hashtag as a way to spam promote their beats.


promogodmother overview

users mentioned by promogodmother

users mentioning promogodmother

most used hashtags by promogodmother

Promogodmother is easily the most ridiculous name I have come across whilst reviewing this data.


teamassassin overview

users mentioned by teamassassin

users mentioning teamassassin

hashtags used by teamassassin

I’m not sure why there’s so little data for this particular user. I think it might have something to do with my theory that, at some point in time, this used to be a different account and so there has been some issue with collecting the data.

So, what can we take from all this?

The #hiphop hashtag is fucked.

Hip-hop artists are pretty shrewd when it comes to adopting new technology and finding ways to use it to promote their own work. In fact, I think that hip-hop culture leads the way when it comes to experimenting with new platforms and medium.

But, I often come across people who heavily misuse the tools and platforms available. They make the mistake of associating hustle with quantity. That’s exactly what we’re seeing when it comes to the data featured in this article. Huge numbers of Tweets from users who receive very little engagement in return.

Ultimately, when there’s nothing of substance, there’s nothing of long term value.

I’ve experimented, albeit on a much lesser scale, with Twitter automation in the past. However, it has always been the genuine, personal exchanges that bring me the most long term value.

Focus on building those genuine relationships. Your own community, Your own ecosystem.

It’s much better to have 1000 genuine fans than to dominate a hashtag that nobody cares about.

I lost $130+ writing this piece.

I don’t know if it was worth it.

I can only tell you that #hiphop is dead.

kanye west through the wire polaroids

The New Show Your Workout Plan by Kanye West


The title of this article might be terrible. Or it might be great. I don’t know, maybe someone will tell me?

I was trying to mix in the title of a book I recently read. The book is called “Show Your Work” by a guy called Austin Kleon. I highly recommend the book. The message is pretty simple, in showing your work, you achieve a number of things:

  • You commit to your work
  • You commit to ACTION
  • You distance yourself from perfectionism
  • You remove fear
  • You create intrigue

Sure, the “outcome” of your work is important. But, for many, there is as much art in process as there is delivery. Your train of thought is a journey unique to you. This is worth sharing because NOBODY is on the same ride as you. The words you cross out, the lines you can’t bring yourself to say, the fear you want to hide from everyone, the self-doubt, the arrogance, the inspiration. All of it can be shared. A lot of it should be.

kanye west donda vision board

I’m a huge believer in this.

There is no greater example of this than what Kanye West has achieved with The Life of Pablo. Philosophy in motion.

It doesn’t matter if you like him or not. Shut your ego up for a second and appreciate the art of sharing.

Here is a list of just some of the things he shared on route to Pablo’s release:

1: He changed the album title at least 5 times (So Help Me God, SWISH, Waves, The Life of Pablo). He would tell us the album title changed, but there was no real explanation as to why.

2: Before the Madison Square Garden Yeezy Season 3 show, he Tweeted a whole range of photos from the new collection.

3: He Tweeted out lyrics, doodles and the album’s tracklist multiple times.

4: He showed who he was inviting to the Yeezy Season 3 launch with messages from his phone.

5: He even took photos of the material he was going to use for merchandise stands.

6: He gave references to samples and other artists that were going to be on the album.

7: He told us why it was being delayed.

9: He told us it’s still in progress.

10: He streamed the album live via Tidal as part of the Yeezy Season 3 show.

11: He started releasing singles over a year ago (Wolves) and then more recently Real Friends (my favourite track) and No More Parties in L.A.

12: He’s since gone on some notable Twitter rants, providing context around his inspirations and experiences through these last few weeks.

Everything he was sharing got me even more hyped for the album. By the day of release, I activated push notifications from his Twitter account because I wanted to listen to the album the moment it was released.

I fell asleep and was 8 hours late to the party. Shit.

This isn’t new from Kanye. 2 years ago he posted the lyrics from Blk Skn Head.blk skn head lyrics

If you have the opportunity to play this game of life you need to appreciate every moment. a lot of people don’t appreciate the moment until it’s passed. – Kanye West

I  got lost for about an hour in the middle of writing this piece.

Take a look at this 2014 Vice article where they jump into the archives of Kanye’s old blog.

I started to think about when he broke his jaw and went on to release the Through The Wire video. EVERYTHING in the that video his Kanye sharing his process, his ideas, his story, his experience. This was back in 2003!

It all creates momentum. A flywheel. A story.

He feeds his ecosystem constantly and then taps into its resources sparingly.

This also got me thinking about Beyoncé’s self-titled 2013 album. The one she released without any announcement or promotion. That album was hugely popular but, that strategy is not sustainable. I’d surprised if her team ever does that again. She really milked her fans loyalty for that album. Is it any surprise that in the years since she’s taken a much more Kanye approach to her promotion? Go take a look at her Instagram. You’ll see around 20 Super Bowl rehearsal photos. She’s showing her work in progress. She’s not committing in the same way as Kanye, but there’s no doubt that he has inspired this new wave of marketing.

Kanye’s efforts resulted in me tuning in for a fashion show. Something I have never even considered before. I am sure I am not alone. I didn’t care for the fashion all that much, but I wanted to part of the experience. I wanted to know how the next chapter was going to play out. I enjoyed this new experience along with the rest of hundreds of thousands of Yeezy Season 3 viewers.

I felt invested in the story of Pablo because I was aware of the process and all of the touch-points along the way. Investment = anticipation. Once you have invested anything, be it money or time or energy, you feel a closer connection to it.

Kanye bridged the gap even further by live streaming his unreleased album to the world at Madison Square Garden. Live work in progress.

It’s still imperfect. The Life of Pablo has already seen three notable iterations. The nine-track version played at MSG. The $20, 18 track version released and swiftly removed from TIDAL and the current version available on Tidal which Kanye has already hinted only being partially finished.

Kanye is updating this album on the fly.

The Life of Pablo isn’t just a narrative that has spanned two years, fashion and hip-hop. It’s a simultaneous culmination and continuation of 13 years of storytelling.

No Church In The Wild.

I suspect that Pablo has become Tidal’s greatest lead generation tool to date.

In November, Kanye appointed Pusha T as the president of GOOD Music. One of the hardest things for creative people to do is to delegate. This has likely been a key move in allowing Kanye to push forward with the release of Pablo and his work on the MSG show. Trust like an artist.

I want to action more and save less for myself. People say that Kanye has an ego. He does. But, who is more egotistical – the person willing to share their work, or the person unwilling to share anything until their own “standards” have been met?

Standards, standstill.

I want to show more of my work. It’s the only way to have more work to show. It’s the easiest way to free yourself of your ego. EVERYONE can take inspiration from Kanye West’s emotional scrapbook.

Here’s the part I loved the MOST so far. During the show at MSG, Kanye screened footage from his unfinished Donda video game.

He started smiling, looked up to the screen and told the audience he had something he wanted to share.

Then, we’re greeted with an image of Kanye’s Mother who was depicted as an angel flying through the skies, navigating her way to heaven. It was strange as shit. It was bright. It was vivid. It was another touchpoint.

I looked over at my girlfriend. She was leaning forward, staring at the TV.

She looked at me and said, “Do you think he’s actually gone mad?”

“It’s probably exactly what he imagined”.

In that moment, I was embarrassed because I don’t have that same level of creativity.

Of all the emotions that you can make someone feel, surely anticipation is the hardest to provoke?

We all subscribe to anticipation.

Put enough of yourself into the world so that you develop your own ecosystem.

Starve your friends, family and fellow artists occasionally. Live from your reserves.

Then give them the feast of their fucking lives.

ultimate hip-hop blog directory

Why I Created The Ultimate Hip-Hop Blog Directory


Before I get into this, I need to acknowledge a man who went by the name of Praverb. For those of you who don’t know, Praverb was a hip-hop fan, blogger and artist who was hugely respected in the hip-hop community. He put in unrivaled effort in shining light on upcoming, independent artists.

Praverb passed away on September 17th 2014.

I never knew Praverb personally. We may have exchanged a few Tweets and he featured this blog back on his own directory.

From a distance, I was a little envious. Whilst I was struggling to get my own work off the ground, he was creating all of the things that I had wanted and planned to do. It seemed like he had everything covered. What could I add that he wasn’t already doing?

When self-doubt creeps in like this, it’s a compliment of the highest regard. He was so good at what he was doing that I temporarily felt like I was surplus to requirements. I say temporarily because I still had an itch. One way or another, I was going to try and create something even bigger and better. What’s hip-hop without some healthy competition?

Just as few of my own projects started gaining momentum, life threw a couple of major curveballs my way.

My Mother passed away aged 49 in October 2014 following a completely unexpected terminal cancer prognosis. There was a 6-week gap between the prognosis and her passing. In the same period of time, my Grandad was also diagnosed and being treated for lung cancer. His terminal prognosis was given in December ’14 and he later passed in March 2015.

Life switched up and changed for me real quick and I needed to focus my attention elsewhere. We’ll get to that another day.

I knew I would pick this project back up at a later date and I did. Day by day over the last 6 months or so, I have been doing a lot of analysis, reading and research to put together this directory of hip-hop blogs.

I’ve kept quiet, lurking on social media and just watching all of the hip-hop journalism, stories and music unfold. A lot has happened. There’s a lot to talk about. Music is being released every damn minute. By the time I’d have finished this post, I fully expect Kanye’s album to be released ahead of schedule with the title “STILL GOD”.

I’ve manually read and assessed data from over 1,500 blogs. Over half of those have stopped blogging in the last 18 months or so. We’ll touch on that in another post but it seems like the fast pace of hip-hop is sometimes is too much for even the most dedicated enthusiasts to keep up with. I know it has been for me.

In the most trying times of my life, hip-hop has helped me through. I listened to Dilla’s Donuts on the night my Mum died. That was some experience.

Even when I have been most frustrated, confused and intrigued with “the state” of hip-hop, I feel privileged. Happy that in hip-hop there is something that resonates with me enough to provoke a response. Trying to figure out what Future, Young Thug and co are talking about is a real fucking challenge for me. But it’s time I’m willing to put in.

The hip-hop blog directory is the starting point. It’s a curation of over 600 active blogs from around the world. They range in posting frequency, topics and quality but all are live, from people spending their time reporting on the world of hip-hop. They are our ears to the street.

If you’re reading this as a professional involved in any of these blogs, thank you. You are in an elite group of individuals who are truly the pulse of this culture.

If you’re reading this as an artist or manager, I am not going to promise that they are going to promote your music. They might not. Some will probably never respond to your emails. A lot will.

Use this as a starting point. Connect with the people writing about this hip-hop. They are the people most interested and invested in your work. They are willing to be your fans. They are not only keeping up with the pace of hip-hop, but they are setting it.

This is just the start from me.

I hope that it helps hip-hop professionals do their jobs a little easier. Selfishly, I hope it means that I am introduced to a bunch of people in the industry that I haven’t yet met. I hope that it gives independent artists a starting point in gaining exposure and building their networks. I hope it connects a few more of us together.

I hope it creates competition.

If you have any thoughts on the project, want to add your blog or just have something else you want to share, just email me

Mary J Blige On Stage Black and White Photo

What Happened When Mary J. Blige DM’d Us


A push notification came up on my phone that Mary J. Blige had sent us a DM. My first thought was “What the fuck?!”. I then briefly imagined a scene where I was sitting in the front row, I think at MSG, with the rest of Mary J.’s team. She was closing the show with “I’m Goin’ Down” and I was proud, like her close associates around me.

I’m a Mary J. fan, but not as crazy into her as the sentences above proclaim. In this moment, I’m ashamed to admit, I was just ego boosted that the Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul (or at least her team) had taken the time out to message us.

It all went downhill from here.

After I acknowledged my mental fangirling, I took a moment to reaffirm my masculinity. I did this by telling myself that I would open the DM, but I would only work with her if it was really worth my time. I do this a lot, I think it’s my way of trying to stay grounded and realising that the longer I stay starstruck, the less I think with business sense.

I opened the DM, it read as follows:

“I’m in London this Fri for #TheLondonSessions screening. Pre-order my new album here by Thurs for a chance to come!

Ah, shit. I’d been duped. I felt stupid. Then, I felt annoyed.

The 411

I’m not here to criticize anyone’s marketing team, after all, she does pretty well for herself. But, I’ve seen this kind of message before and I am certain that there were a lot of users who were equally disappointed.

There are a few problems with this direct message.

  1. Twitter has grown up. This “first person” style DM is just no longer acceptable, it insults a user’s intelligence (especially after you get over the daydreaming). Mary has over 5million followers, there’s no way she’d send a message like this.
  2. It’s basically asking me to pre-order the album, but there’s nothing at all on the landing page (from the link at the end of the DM) that highlights that in return I would get the opportunity to attend the screening. Check it out for yourselves by clicking this link. This leads me to wonder whether there was even a competition element to this campaign or whether her team were just instructed to boost pre-orders.
  3. In line with the point above, the screening was on a Friday and they sent this message out on the Tuesday. Pretty late for anyone who genuinely would want to attend?
  4. This last point isn’t necessarily a problem, more a recommendation to Universal/her team or an instruction to those guys out there who use Google Analytics to tag and track URLs. In the link within the DM, Mary’s team have tagged up the campaign as follows:
    1. Campaign: MaryJTheLondonSessions
    2. Content: MaryJTheLondonSessions
    3. Medium: Tweet
    4. Source: Twitter

To break this down:

Campaign: MaryJTheLondonSessions. 

This is fine.

Content: MaryJTheLondonSessions.

This is not fine. The “Content” variable should be used to identify different types of messaging that is being used. The fact that this just repeats the campaign name suggests to me that there was one blanket DM sent as part of her entire Twitter DM campaign.

Medium: Tweet

Not fine. In this example, I would have used the medium of direct message to be as specific as possible.

Source: Twitter

This is fine.

In addition to the above, all of the campaign variables should have been written in lower case. The reason for this is because Google Analytics treats each variation of letter casing as something different. For example marjlondonsessions/MaryJLondonSessions would be considered separate campaigns. It only takes one team member to get this wrong and you’ve got the tedious task of having to combine campaign data. Not fun.

So, what happened when Mary J DM’d us?

I felt good, then I felt stupid and then I decided to put my stupidity to use. As a Twitter user, I expect more from a major label team. Have you got any good examples of DM’s you’ve been disappointed by?