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Hip-Hop Out-Charted Pop By 227 Weeks in 2017

It may come as no surprise, but hip-hop was the most popular genre of music in 2017, by an impressive margin. It was reported earlier in th...

Hip-Hop Out-Charted Pop By 227 Weeks in 2017

It may come as no surprise, but hip-hop was the most popular genre of music in 2017, by an impressive margin. It was reported earlier in the year by Nielsen Soundscan that Hip-Hop had become the most consumed genre in the United States, and with the benefit of an entire 12 months of Billboard charts, it can be confirmed it is now comprehensively  the most popular genre.

Total Weeks Spent Inside Billboard Top 20

Hip-Hop spent 744 weeks inside the Billboard top 20 in 2017, out of a possible 2080 weeks (20 positions per week, multiplied by 52 weeks, multiplied by 2 for albums and songs). That’s an impressive 35.76%! It wasn’t huge one-off records that created this chart dominance, it was longevity from a number of releases that consistently delivered sales over the course of the year. Post Malone’s Stoney was the most consistent record of the year, spending 48 weeks inside the top 20, and finishing 2017 at number 10 on the Billboard 200 album charts. DAMN. and Culture also enjoyed extended runs; DAMN. has spent 34 consecutive weeks inside the top 20, while Migos’ Culture added 28 weeks to Hip-Hop’s chart run.

Post Malone also contributed heavily with “Congratulations” featuring Quavo, which spent 19 consecutive weeks in the top 20 of the Hot 100 chart. This was bettered by French Montana’s most successful single to date, “Unforgettable”, which stuck around for 23 weeks, peaking at number 3.

While these Hot 100 chart runs are impressive, both Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars experienced longer periods inside the top 20 of the singles chart. “Shape Of You” by Sheeran achieved 39 weeks, “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars enjoyed 36 weeks, “Despacito” and its accompanying remix were in the top 20 for 29 weeks, and Imagine Dragons’ “Believer” stuck around for 28 weeks.

Yet despite these huge Pop, Rock, R&B and Reggaeton anthems, Hip-Hop prevailed by 227 weeks.

A special mention must go to SZA, who experienced a really incredible year on the back of her album CTRL. The album spent 19 weeks inside the Billboard Top 20, which represents 13.2% of all R&B albums inside the top 20 of the Billboard 200. She has also spent 12 consecutive weeks in the Hot 100 top 20 courtesy of her collaboration with Maroon 5, "What Lovers Do".

Weeks Spent Inside Billboard Top 10 (Albums + Singles)

Almost 50% of the weeks that Hip-Hop spent inside the top 20 came from songs and albums inside the top 10. DAMN. was prolific at 24 weeks, and “Bodak Yellow” had real staying power, hovering inside the top 10 for 17 weeks. Again, individual Pop and R&B releases had longer runs, mainly through Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, but Hip-Hop was more consistent across a wider variety of albums and songs.

Weeks Spent On Top of Billboard Charts

Hip-Hop’s reign at number 1 in 2017 is unprecedented this decade. 6 tracks in total have topped the Billboard Hot 100 this year, 3 times more than the next most prolific years, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

35 weeks in total (out of a possible 104) have seen a Hip-Hop song or album on top of the Billboard charts, compared with 29 in 2016. Both DAMN. and More Life spent 3 weeks at the pinnacle of the Billboard 200, equalling  Taylor Swift’s figure, though it was The Weeknd’s Starboy that dominated the number 1 position on the album charts, spending 5 weeks at the top.

The diversity of the rap songs that made it to number 1 on the Hot 100 in 2017 proves there isn't a uniform sound or subgenre that is more popular or relevant. "Bodak Yellow" by Cardi B features a lot of bars, double-time flows, and even shots at people turning up to nightclubs without being paid. That's something Rae Sremmurd wouldn't consider doing, as their number 1 single "Black Beatles" was a chart smash partly because of its vibe and nightclub appeal (not to mention the mannequin challenge).

"rockstar" relies on a vibe too, but it is a little more downtrodden. While the lyrics are worthy of the American Dream, the aesthetic is less euphoric. On the absolute opposite end of the spectrum is "I'm The One" by DJ Khaled, featuring Bieber, Chance, Quavo and Wayne. A summer anthem with a stretchy bass and a tropical house vibe.

"Bad & Boujee" is a little bit of the above rolled into one. The chorus is anthemic, Quavo and Offset drop bars, the vibe is chilled, and the flow is progressive.
Finally, there is "Humble", proof lyricism and deep content still has a place on the charts, and political and social messages can sneak into the club if delivered in the right way. 

2016 vs. 2017

Hip-Hop’s dominance in 2017 is made more impressive by the huge chart turnaround it experienced between 2016 and 2017. While 2016 wasn’t completely sparse for the genre, big-ticket releases were harder to come by. J. Cole, Kanye West, Drake and Kendrick all dropped projects, but only two singles performed particularly well on the Hot 100, being “Panda” by Desiigner and “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane.

This was reflected in the charts. Here is the passing of the “most popular genre” baton, visualized:

Hip-Hop was just part of the pack in 2016. R&B outcharted it inside both the top 10 and top 20 (albums and singles). In 2017, it flew to new heights, dominating every other genre.

Is this a permanent turn in fortune for Hip-Hop in America? It’s possible this will continue into 2018. Taylor Swift’s reputation and accompanying singles haven’t had nearly the impact she has had in the past. Eminem’s Revival just dropped, and while 19.5% of that album is pop, it’s still a rap record, and it will start 2018 off at number 1, ensuring Hip-Hop begins the next 12 months at the top of the Billboard charts.

With Kanye teasing new music, Metro Boomin continuing at his frenetic pace, Post Malone’s project on the horizon, and a new Migos record, 2018 could conceivably continue to solidify Hip-Hop as the most popular genre in America.

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