Throughout 2018, the genre of rap has taken over the entire music industry. Pop stations have transitioned to playing rap and hip-hop on a regular basis, signaling a major shift in popular music taste.
Rap has been a prevalent aspect of pop culture since its debut in the 1980’s. Hip-hop pioneers like Tupac, Biggie Smalls, and NWA paved the way for the rap game to take the spotlight. Originally, hip-hop attracted vast amounts of young people who grew up in poor communities, being that most hip-hop throughout the 1990’s spoke to the struggles of living in impoverished neighborhoods. The topics of crime, drugs, and violence that surfaced in many hip-hop compositions were elements that a lot of listeners could relate to, which helped the genre take off. For example, legendary lyricists such as Tupac and Eminem uncovered the struggles of everyday life in the dangerous neighborhoods of Harlem and Detroit through songs like “Dear Mama” and “Mockingbird”.
As the rap game progressed and evolved, a style often referred to as “brag rap” came to the forefront. Brag rap is when an artist raps about his money, jewelry, houses, girls, or fame. Many of the most famous hip-hop artists have songs that fall under this category: take examples like “Hypnotize” by Biggie Smalls or “The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem.
Nowadays, almost all of hip-hop is brag-rap, which is one of the main factors that contributes to its immense popularity. As rap begins to move away from its roots on the streets, wealthier, suburban kids feel as though they can relate to it more closely. As unfair as it may sound, it’s the privileged people that have control over the music industry: now that affluent kids are increasingly listening to hip-hop, it has completely taken over our radios.
Additionally, the online music platform ‘Soundcloud’ has helped to spike rap’s popularity. This platform allows for anybody to post music that they have created, and gives it the chance to be recognized by millions. Soundcloud is responsible for producing many of today’s most popular rappers, such as Lil Pump, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Trippie Redd, 6ix9ine, Post Malone, Chance the Rapper, and fan-favorite XXXTentacion. One thing that contributes to the platform’s success is the rappers’ producers, who create catchy beats that can sometimes make up for lackluster lyrics.
The year of 2018 has been possibly the most notable year for the rap and hip-hop: one could argue that it should be considered the year that truly marks the height of the genre. According to Nielsen Music, 2017 was the first year that Rock was not the most popular music genre overall. Which style took Rock’s recurring spot? You guessed it — rap. Taking a look at other 2018 trends, it is also obvious that the presence of social media grew exponentially throughout the year. Social media incites creativity, promotes art, advertises television, broadcasts sports, and most importantly, publicizes music. This is yet another (and possibly the most important) factor that has contributed to the explosion of rap music. With the help of social media, the rap community has had the ability to collaborate, grow, and develop into something really amazing.
In all, the main attraction of rap is still its ability to combine storytelling and lyrical genius with hard-hitting beats that turn songs into real bangers. Rappers like Drake, Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Big Sean, and many others are the hope of the rap game. These artists are what truly make rap so special. They are the reason that this genre has become the face of our generation’s pop-music. Rap is here for good, and it isn’t going anywhere.
Graphic: Nicole Kye