It’s been a while since we started to have a doubt in our head. A question that recurs every time we listen to music. What will be the next big genre? Yes, we know. We are making useless paranoia and we should to concentrate on the present and think less about the future. But on the other side, music is our greatest passion and we can’t stop our thoughts. And moreover, trying to anticipate trends is practically a must for DJs, record companies and any other spokesperson for the music world. So, after all, it’s not that useless.
So, in this historical period, it is clearly obvious that hip-hop is the most popular genre. Rap music and rappers are pretty much everywhere. Let’s say that the current analysis of the music industry is quite simple. Now, before starting with our opinion, let’s try to see how and when it happened.
The most popular genre
For all of us, it was quite obvious that it was hip hop, as it was still dominating the mainstream market for years. But at the numerical level only a year ago, only recently it was made official. In January 2018 Hip hop and R&B surpassed rock for the first time as the biggest music genre in the United States. R&B and hip-hop are now responsible for 25.1% of all music consumption in the U.S., while rock claims 23%. It’s clear that streaming is to thank for the swap in ranking considering that Rock is far and away the winner when it comes to album sales.
The unexpected news rocked the world when Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album DAMN was recognized as one of the most important works of the 21st century. This is the first time a non-classical or jazz artist has won the Pulitzer Prize in its 75-year history and it signifies the change in rap’s cultural status.
Kendrick is certainly an important figure. Both analyzing the numbers and critics. But the artists, which in our opinion are really revolutionized the scene, making the genre become what is today, are Kanye West and Drake. We spoke about the first one a few days ago with the anniversary of The College Dropout. The Canadian artist, also, is a very interesting case to examine.
If you told a hip-hop head in ’95 that a Jewish Canadian rapper who used to play a wheelchair-bound high schooler on Nickelodeon would one day revolutionize the entire genre by talking about his feelings, they would never have believed you. But that’s exactly what Drake has done, and that’s just the beginning.
The vast majority of the conversation surrounding Drake’s rise focused on his perceived softness. Everyone was asking ‘Is Drake too soft for hip hop?’ at the time of So Far Gone. But through the years and the shade, Drake has managed to carve out his own lane, and in the process, he’s remade hip-hop in his own image. Hip-hop’s tolerance for alternative narratives has increased exponentially since Drake’s breakout. Without Drake, it’s doubtful that rappers like Bryson Tiller and many others would have felt comfortable releasing their music to the Hip-Hop audience. What about Future? Could we have ever listened to his sadder intimate works, or would we have had to content ourselves with the classic monothematic pieces?
Another important fact is that Drake’s music pays attention to women and their stories.
He’s the first rapper to say ‘Hey, let’s start respecting the women more’. We’re not just going to be like droppin’ the b-word all day long because it does impact our women and take away from the idea of family.”
Kanye West once said about Drake. (Can you guys squash the beef and make music together? please)
Furthermore, in 2012, Drake claimed:
“There were people who incorporated melody before me, but I would deem myself the first person to successfully rap and sing”
Yes, of course, he wasn’t the first one. Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot, and Mos Def preceded him. But Drake is absolutely the most successful. He turned the half-sung and half-rapped style into a fixture in mainstream radio in a way none of the aforementioned artists did.
Why is Hip-Hop so popular?
We know there will be lots of other answers that discuss trends in the music industry and pop culture, but we wanted to focus on one of the core social elements that attract young people to creative cultural movements like hip hop and punk, and that is accessibility.
Hip hop is marked by a strong youth presence, including artists, creators, critics, etc. As a cultural collective, hip hop allows easy access to its culture and encourages participation and creativity. This should not be a surprise since hip hop was built on a foundation of urban youth interpreting, sampling, and modifying existing elements of music, art, dance, poetry, and literature. It is an art form and culture that has always encouraged participation! Young people, both now and in the past, have been able to feel a connection with the culture because they are fully immersed, directly involved in its expression, and are vital to its evolution! It is very similar to the continued influence of punk. DIY local artistry and creativity of youth help to shape not only the music but the pervasive culture.
So with hip-hop, the sound is accessible, the themes are accessible and even the aesthetics nowadays are accessible. And at a time in their lives where perhaps many other things do not seem as accessible to them or they don’t speak their slang, teens pour their hearts and minds into something that embraces them and has shared meaning and significance in their peer groups. So outside of the industry influencers and marketing, we would say that accessibility is certainly one of the key factors that contribute to the popularity of hip hop among teens!
The future is no genres
Here we are, after a long long premise we have arrived at the focal point of the article. Yes, we can understand it, maybe we have bored you and explained things that didn’t interest you so much, but to try to understand the future, we must always start from the past. Well, as they say, ‘To figure out where to go, you need to know where you’re from.’
Therefore, trying to predict the next trends is always difficult. Whether it’s music or fashion. In this specific case, in our opinion, it is really important. Yes, as we said before, hip hop right now is unequivocally the first genre, but at the same time, it seems that it is starting to get bored and that many are looking for something new. The artists themselves, seem to be experimenting more and more in search of something new. The point, however, is that, in the future, we will probably talk less and less about genres, and more just about music! We will stop cataloging each artist in a specific box. Oliver tree, for example, is one of our favorite artists, and what genre does he do? We don’t know! It’s a mixture of so many things: indie pop, punk rock, hip hop and more.
Here, according to us, this is the future. Dividing into genres is something that Akeem never liked, and now more than ever, this thing is starting to die altogether. All genres are mingling with each other. Thanks to the Internet and globalization, every artist is influenced by world’s music and then he transfers it in his works. Once, were you born in New York? You simply made the music of your neighborhood and that’s it. You didn’t even know what was happening around the globe. In 2019 artists sing, rap, make reggaeton music, they are inspired by punk and combine rock sounds. In short, it’s a big mess, but we like it!
More creativity, less imaginary boxes. We leave you with Toro Y Moi‘s new video (from his new album Outer Peace), which is another great representation of our speech.