Rap Overtakes Rock as the Most Popular Genre Among Music Fans

Patrick Ryan, USA Today, January 3, 2018

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For the first time ever, R&B/hip-hop has surpassed rock to become the biggest music genre in the U.S. in terms of total consumption, according to Nielsen Music’s 2017 year-end report.

Eight of the 10 most listened-to artists of the year came from the R&B/hip-hop genre, led by Drake, with 4.8 million album equivalent units (combined album sales, song downloads and streams), and Kendrick Lamar (3.7 million). Rap also experienced the second-highest growth of any genre, spiking 25% over 2016 and coming in just behind Latin music, which was up 30% in total volume.

Hip-hop dominated the charts in 2017, with viral hits such as Lil Uzi Vert’s XO Tour Llif3, Future’s Mask Off and Post Malone’s Congratulations ranking among the 10 best-selling tracks of last year, according to BuzzAngle Music and Mediabase. Rap up-and-comers Cardi B (Bodak Yellow) and Migos (Bad and Boujee) each spent multiple weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 with their respective singles, while four of the five Grammy nominees for album of the year were R&B or hip-hop artists.

Album and song sales were down overall in 2017, dropping 19% against the year before. But streaming surged in their wake, growing 43% with 400 billion streams total (compared with 252 billion in 2016).

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