Rap music is controversial, yes? You either love it, or you despise it. According to a Newsweek article, the brain power used during freestyle rap is an interestingly creative process:

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The Newsweek article mentions two scholarly studies to support their claim. If you’re reading something that cites a scholarly journal article, it’s important to check the  journal’s impact factor. The impact factor tells you how often the journal has been cited in other scholarly works within the time frame of a particular year. From this, you can determine what kind of impact the journal makes within the academic community.

So, the first study mentioned was published by Scientific Reports in 2012.


I checked the impact factor of the journal with a simple Google search:


According to Michael A. Caulfield’s chapter 21 “Finding a Journal’s Impact Factor” in his book Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, “Impact factors can go into the 30s, but we’re using this as a quick elimination test, not a ranking, so we’re happy with anything over 1.” 

So the 4.259 ranking is definitely not the greatest impact factor, but at least we know the source was cited several times in 2016.

We can also check the credibility of the authors by clicking on the links embedded in their names on the study, and you have options to search for the author on three different platforms:

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For the most part, all of these authors have numerous articles published, and have been cited by many in the past.

Let’s look at the second study that was cited in the Newsweek article. This study was published in Brain and Cognition in 2017:


And the impact factor:


So the impact factor for Brain and Cognition is even less than Scientific Reports. Let’s look at the credibility of the authors. On this website, if you click the links embedded in the names, it pulls up a sidebar on the righthand side of your screen, and from there, you can see other articles by that author.
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This isn’t as helpful as the previous example, but we could always type our author’s name into Google Scholar and click on his “User Profile” to see information regarding how many times the author’s work was cited in various years:
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So there we have it!

After conducting this investigation, both studies seem reasonably reliable. Let’s consider the topic: analyzing the creativity level of freestyle rappers isn’t something that’s commonly covered. I did a Google Scholar search for “freestyle rap” and besides the study from Scientific Reports which came up first, all of the other articles relate to race, culture, ethnicity, and literacy:

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Interesting, right? It could be a possibility that journals with higher impact factors have not yet covered the creativity that goes into freestyle rap. What does this say about highly academic journals? What kind of lens do they look through? I’d say a lens of class, race, and society. While, the main study from Scientific Reports focused on the creativity and individuality needed for freestyle rap. My question is: why didn’t we hear about this study years ago? Newsweek published their article about the study on September 27th, 2017. This study definitely does not reinforce dominant societal lenses relating to rap music, which is probably why it’s gone unnoticed for so long. 

For now, I think the studies we covered are substantial enough to be considered credible until further research on the topic is published by journals with greater impact factors.