To explore what could happen if Alex could train a machine learning model on hip hop and allow it to generate stories,
poems or advice to an audience.
The Hip Hop Poetry Bot creation was initially supported by a grant from Google Artists & Machine Intelligence, a program
at Google that brings artists and engineers together to realize projects using Machine Intelligence.
The inspiration behind the Hip Hop Poetry Bot was the Please Feed The Lions interactive installation at London’s
Trafalgar Square and the work of Nam June Paik using television as an experimental and playful medium that has an
influence on modern art and culture.
Creative technologists Cyril Diagne and Holly Grimm worked with Alex to train a machine learning model on rap lyrics
consisting of hip hop artists who have showcased technical virtuosity, moral complexity, political acuity, wit, empathy
and musical depth and breadth in their works.
The vision was simply to create an algorithm trained on a personal dataset of lyrics, and experimented with using this
to generate poetic responses to everyday questions based on a number of categories such as Love, Sadness, Reflection,
Happiness and Food.
Trying to create an algorithm that can generate rhyme was difficult, highlighting the challenge of AI achieving
creativity which could be considered ‘equal’ to humans.
For the moment it exists as a proof of concept, as building the experiment in full requires a large, public dataset of
rap and hip hop lyrics on which an algorithm can be trained, and such a public archive doesn’t currently exist.
The project launched as an interactive website with an invitation from Alex to rap and hip hop artists to become
creative collaborators and contribute their lyrics to create a new, public dataset of lyrics by Black artists.