Rap Loves NASA: 236 Times Rap Music Name-Dropped the Space Agency
Plastered across jackets, T-shirts and laptops, the NASA “meatball” logo enjoyed a cultural resurgence in the past few years. And pop music, often the best reflection current cultural fascination, has been awash with NASA references in recent years.
Genius, the Smithsonian of song lyrics and annotations, searched its rap/R&B database for the term
NASA and has provided Inverse with the data, proving true what we’ve been hearing all along. NASA has been enjoying a moment leading up to and during this, its 60th birthday. Across the spectrum of rap music, a love for NASA is apparent, with references peppered into lyrics of songs that top the charts, and other songs happy to live under the radar. (We should all hope we’re this relevant at 60.)
The below data begins from 1996, so, unfortunately, we’ll never know how often people liked to rap about NASA in those first 38 years. The data also includes includes a few covers, which were each counted as a datapoint. It should also be noted that Genius launched in 2009 (then as Rap Genius) and has been adding more songs each year of its existence; there could very well be songs from 2009 that reference “NASA” that are not in its database.
An Overview of the Data
Although the Genius data includes both rap and R&B songs, the vast majority fall under the rap genre. For the 236 data points, Genius provides the year the song was released, the artist, and a snippet of the song that mentioned NASA. Here’s a full spreadsheet of data provided to Inverse from Genius.
Most Popular Year for NASA References
In 2017, the Genius database added 32 different songs with NASA in the lyrics, including several non-English language additions, show that NASA is truly a globally recognized agency — and has become synonymous with space exploration.
Which Languages Use NASA the Most?
No surprise here, but most songs are in English (130). German and French make themselves known with 30 songs and 27 songs, respectively. Next comes Polish with 13 songs, followed by Portuguese with 10 songs. You’d think after the Space Race, Russia might take the opportunity to throw some shade, but only one Russian song made the list.
What Rhymes with NASA, According to Rappers
Which Rappers Name-Drop NASA the Most?
Future and SpaceGhostPurrp top the list since both have used NASA as a lyric four times. Our runner-up B.o.B.uses NASA three times in songs “Flatline” (2016), “Stanley Kubrick” (2016), and “BoBiverse” (2017).
“F—- being a rapper, shoulda been a scientist from NASA,” said C.O.B. in his 2012 Cypher. If you’re still considering a career change C.O.B., we’ve got some tips on how to fulfill your astronaut dreams.
Most Scientifically Accurate
Rich Brian in “Arizona” correctly mentions, “Zero gravity in the room like NASA,” Astronauts do train in the infamous Vomit Comet, which allows astronauts-in-training to experience zero gravity for 20-25 seconds. NASA also houses their own Zero-G facility, where researchers study have studied microgravity or weightlessness since 1966. A close runner up in scientific accuracy is MOD SUN in “HappyBB,” where he references a NASA blast off and says, “I’m movin’ faster than Nascar.” As space shuttles accelerate from zero to 18,000 miles per hour, MOD SUN is quite right that a speed nine times the average rifle bullet is faster than Nascar racing.
Least Scientifically Accurate
Slaughterhouse in “Killaz” describes “bullets flyin faster than a NASA spacecraft.” Bullets travel fast, at approximately 1,700 mph on average. But unless Slaughterhouse lives in a futuristic, technologically-advanced society the rest of us were denied entry to, they’re definitely not faster than a spacecraft.
Best Description of an Astronaut’s Day
The honor goes to Shady Records for the song “Shady CXVPHER”. As KXNG Crooked eloquently puts in his verse, “In the booth rockin’ a biosuit made of plastic / And NASA’s galactic elastic travelin’ through space, interstellar rapping / Broadcastin’ from uninhibited planets.”
Elon Musk’s Next Rival
Add Twisted Insane to the Mars race — he’s taking his speedy rapping to space travel. In “Pick Your Poison” ft. Charles Xavier, he writes, “I betcha / That I’ll make it to Mars before NASA.” Good luck with that, Twisted Insane, you’ve got until November to beat InSight there.
While NASA takes us high beyond the skies, these rappers keep us grounded in our culture.