Paul Devlin, Slate: What was your process for transcribing the lyrics of the songs included in The Anthology of Rap?

Adam Bradley: We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your questions, Paul. In our Introduction to The Anthology of Rap, we discuss our editorial procedures and transcription principles. Our process was as follows:

(1) Listen to each song multiple times, typing out an original transcription with the song itself as the primary 'text.'

(2) Pass that preliminary transcription on for checking by another set (or sets) of ears.

(3) Check that transcription against a range of other transcriptions, including online resources such as OHHLA and AZ Lyrics as well as print resources such as liner notes and lyrics published in books.

(4) Contact the rights holder and whenever possible the artist him- or herself to review our transcriptions. Nearly thirty artists did just that.


(5) Submit our transcriptions to the publisher for copy-editing.

(6) Subject every copy-edited song to another process of listening and correction.

(7) Review the page proofs by reading through each lyric again, revisiting problematic passages.


Devlin:  Specifically, did you use online lyrics sites like OHHLA when transcribing the lyrics of songs included in The Anthology? If you didn't, how do you account for so many of the errors that have been caught so far also appearing on OHHLA and on other online lyrics sites?

Bradley: Like most rap fans, we've gone online over the years to find transcriptions of songs that interested us. As we describe above, we considered consulting these sites an important element—but only one element—in an exhaustive process.

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