“grillz” is an exploration and analysis of the usage of language in mainstream hip-hop lyricism, with particular attention paid to mentions of money and income.


individual songs are algorithmically analyzed for references to extreme poverty—the projects, drug dealing, prostitution—as well as extreme wealth—cars, cash, jewelry and the like. mentions in each category are scored according to relative distance from words of the opposite polarity; the closer together a poverty reference and a wealth reference are to each other, the higher the score, and the number accumulates the more references there are in close proximity.

the resulting landscape formed is extruded into a 3D shape and printed as wearable grills: jewelry designed to fit over one’s teeth, and which have become inextricably linked to hip-hop culture over the years as a symbol of over-the-top, ostentatious wealth.

the language was processed using custom software (and with the assistance of my own pygenius python library), and the models were created in processing, with the assistance of the geomerative and modelbuilder libraries. the pieces were 3D printed in polished gold steel.

view the code on github.

view selected press about the project.



"office hours" at the dumbo arts festival (brooklyn), september 2014

"heavily scripted" at little berlin (philadelphia), october 2014

"death by art" at death by audio (brooklyn), november 2014

data visualization showcase, strata hadoop conference (san jose), february 2015

"physico-electro" at the art association of jackson hole (jackson, WY), july-august 2015