On 25th of September 2017, Cardi B became the first solo female rapper to go number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart since 1998, with Bodak Yellow.
Now, I listened to Bodak Yellow for the first time about 3 weeks ago, because I had intentionally gone out of my way to not listen to it. I listened to it and my reaction was a bit ‘meh’. I mean, I get it; it’s an empowering song, which allows every woman to flex on their haters (imaginary or not) for the 3 mins and 53 seconds the song lasts. But number 1 on the charts? I was taken aback by this feat; I was impressed and flabbergasted at the same time. First, I thought, how can a song where she’s blatantly catting another rapper’s flow chart higher than any song the copied rapper has ever released? But what excited me about her topping the charts was how it showed the dominance of hip hop music, not just in America, but on a global basis.
I saw something on Twitter some time ago about how, according to Forbes, hip hop music has finally become the number 1 music genre within the USA. It’s about time. The domination of hip hop music in the past decade cannot go unnoticed. Hip hop music has always been an integral part of black culture, but now, even the oyinbo people can’t get enough of it. When you consider the impact of social media too, it’s no wonder that hip hop has become the global phenomenon it is today. Before Bodak Yellow, there was Unforgettable. Before Unforgettable, there was I’m the One. Before I’m the One, it was Bad and Boujee. These are all songs that all reached the top 3 mark of the Billboard Hot 100 in 2017. 25% of all music consumption in America is r&b/hip hop, so these sort of statistics don’t surprise me.
Also, with the growth of hip hop, artists who stood at the periphery of the charts before, now enjoy long standing chart success; trap artists especially. Migos for example; their first album, Yung Rich Nation, which came out in 2015, sold 14,000 copies in its first week; their second album, Culture, sold 131,000 (album equivalent) units in its first week, and has since reached platinum. Look at Future too. His first album, Pluto, sold 41,000 copies in its first week, whilst DS2 sold 151,000 in its first week. Be honest; could you ever see a trap artist selling in excess of 100k copies a week, before 2014? The answer is no, you couldn’t.
The dominance of hip hop can be put down to two umbrella factors; social media, and digital downloads. Firstly, social media is now what makes the world go round. Everything within media is social media oriented, and if you really want something to blow up, social media is the best avenue. I mean, look at Big Shaq. Imagine that FITB had come out before Twitter was created. The dislike bar would’ve been so large, they probably would have even removed it by now. But Twitter is an avenue into stardom.
And as for digital downloads, ain’t nobody tryna buy albums anymore. Apple Music and Spotify have kinda blown hard copy album sales out the water. Streaming too; it’s just so much easier and accessible. I think I’ve owned 3 hard copy albums in my life; compare that to the 550 albums I have on my iTunes. Because of this, it is considerably easier to reach platinum now than it was 10 years ago, so it’s no wonder why hip hop albums are selling so much, so fast.
Hip hop >