Keepin’ it real: Linguistic models of authenticity judgments for artificially generated rap lyrics

F.B. Karsdorp, Enrique Manjavacas, Mike Kestemont

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


Through advances in neural language modeling, it has become possible to generate artificial texts in a variety of genres and styles. While the semantic coherence of such texts should not be over-estimated, the grammatical correctness and stylistic qualities of these artificial texts are at times remarkably convincing. In this paper, we report a study into crowd-sourced authenticity judgments for such artificially generated texts. As a case study, we have turned to rap lyrics, an established sub-genre of present-day popular music, known for its explicit content and unique rhythmical delivery of lyrics. The empirical basis of our study is an experiment carried out in the context of a large, mainstream contemporary music festival in the Netherlands. Apart from more generic factors, we model a diverse set of linguistic characteristics of the input that might have functioned as authenticity cues. It is shown that participants are only marginally capable of distinguishing between authentic and generated materials. By scrutinizing the linguistic features that influence the participants’ authenticity judgments, it is shown that linguistic properties such as ‘syntactic complexity’, ‘lexical diversity’ and ‘rhyme density’ add to the user’s perception of texts being authentic. This research contributes to the improvement of the quality and credibility of generated text. Additionally, it enhances our understanding of the perception of authentic and artificial art.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0224152
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2019


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