Over the weekend, NME reported on a poem (allegedly written by Hov himself) that suggested Jay-Z would no longer be using the word bitch in his music. (The relevant lines: “Before I got in the game, made a change, and got rich / I didn’t think hard about using the word bitch / I rapped, I flipped it, I sold it, I lived it / Now with my daughter in this world I curse those that give it.”) The authenticity of this poem is perhaps not totally verified (as in, it’s likely a fake. Update: his reps have even denied it!), but Vulture likes to be prepared for worst-case scenarios, and so we immediately went into overdrive, trying to calculate how this decision would affect Jay-Z’s performance options. Yes, calculate: We did actual math! (At Vulture, math is very loosely defined as anything that involves numbers and charts.) Below, the results of our very involved research to find out just how many times Jay has used bitch in his songs, and which songs are affected most. (We should also note that we weren’t the only people to attempt this bitch counting, and it turns out that numbers, or Rap Genius, are very flexible.) Anyway, to the findings!
Of 289 songs on which Jay-Z was listed as the main artist (per Rap Genius) or an equal collaborator (i.e., on Watch the Throne), bitch or a variation thereof appeared 355 times. On average, that’s 1.2 bitchs per song.
Only Jay-Z’s top-five bitch-iest songs make it into double digits:
“Is that Yo Bitch (ft. Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott & Twista)”: 41 bitches
“Bitches and Sisters”: 27 bitches
“Stick 2 the Script (ft. Beanie Sigel & DJ Clue)”: 22 bitches
“Paper Chase (ft. Foxy Brown)”: 12 bitches
“Jigga What’s My Name”: 10 bitches
“99 Problems,” which is arguably Jay-Z’s most famous bitch-related song, doesn’t make the top five — not even close. It only comes in at four bitchs.
Most often, though, Jay-Z doesn’t mention bitches at all: Bitches are absent from a whole 168 of his songs. So when Jay-Z raps that of his 99 problems “a bitch ain’t one,” that’s only true about 58 percent of the time.