A lot has been made of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent weeks, thanks to the rollout of OpenAI.com’s ChatGPT tool, a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022. Without going into how it actually works (because I have no idea!) it is essentially a very complex set of computer language models that can react and create answers to questions you would usually ask Google. Sensible people have used it to provide answers to technical questions or to build simple stories. The potential is frightening, particularly for arduous tasks that a human may be conducting – the propensity for putting people out of work with the rise of the machines hasn’t felt this real since Terminator 2 dropped in 4K.

An argument over whether it should be used to create art feels like a no-brainer – why would anyone want a robot’s interpretation of human expression? At what point will we not be able to tell the difference between a human singing/rapping and an intelligent machine replicating it? These are questions beyond my academic level, so instead, I want to see what stupid shit we can throw at this thing. From a rap review perspective, can it provide accurate opinions based on what information is available online? Does it remove some of the hours spent researching an artist, listening to interviews or previous material to glean informative background information on artists? Can it clarify who the GOAT is?

This is a very diplomatic response. Particularly the decision to include the current era because no sane person considers Post Malone the best rapper, not even Malone himself. Does ChatGPT treat the term “greatest” differently?

According to AI, Biggie is the GOAT. This is interesting because Billboard and Rolling Stone both declared Biggie the “greatest rapper of all time”, as cited on Biggie’s Wikipedia page, so it is likely scouring certain websites of significance (or simply Wikipedia) and making decisions based on this.

Can it be used to identify facts, to aid with future content?

Asking it to do a menial task, like identifying the anniversary of an album release, proved unsuccessful, but it did show the AI learning what I was after. My subsequent question was to see if any albums were released on January 14th (no year specified), and it assumed I was still interested in hip-hop albums released on January 14, 2013 – which it explains is a Monday. For more analytical questions, I wondered whether ChatGPT could analyze lyrics to determine which rapper cursed the most, but this was unsuccessful. It did attempt to confirm which rapper has released the most albums though:

Let’s try something more entertaining. A pet peeve of mine is rappers recording verses that could be copy and pasted to other songs without the listener noticing. One of my favorites, Vinnie Paz, can sometimes feel like his verses are so similar in theme and content these days that a Pazbot could well have written it. 

Aside from flow, it’s largely nailed the nature of a Vinnie Paz verse but lacks some of the gun talk. How about writing a song?

This is where ChatGPT excels – using its intelligence to craft interesting content. Kanye West and Dolly Parton are essentially opposite spectrums of the music industry (just look at the description of them), but it does make one wonder why these lyrics were chosen. Why is it so egotistically structured with every line being “I did this or I did that”? It isn’t as smart as initially suspected, because when asked for a Dolly Parton song in the style of Kanye West, it spits out the same song with slightly different words.

You can ask it stupid questions that all hip-hop fans want to know the answers to, but it does have limitations. Where it shows its potential is in creating content, or more accurately, quickly generating list-icles for music journalism purposes. I now wonder whether some outlets are already using this functionality, because the suggestions are completely valid.

I’d never have thought of a Jay Electronica/Bronze Nazareth project being a potential combination, but I can see it, despite the reasoning being largely generic. In fact, the written descriptions of an artist is so bland and nondescript that it rarely adds value to the answer. Hit-Boy is described as dynamic four times when questioned about who his next collaborator should be, and it cites him as having made albums with Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, which is incorrect.

ChatGPT certainly has its uses, but for this website, they are fortunately limited. It doesn’t display the insight or opinion necessary to back up its statements, with largely hollow explanations of its suggestions. Although we do now know that RapReviews.com is approved by robots. Maybe they aren’t so bad, after all.