By Kaleb Schuppner, Editor
2011 marked the first time in years that rap and hip hop were not the most popular genres among teenagers aged 13-17.
According to Simon Dyson, editor of Music and Copyright, rap and hip hop were ranked third on the global sales charts in 2000. In 2009, they were ranked seventh on the charts.
Between 2000 and 2009, rap and hip hop retail sales decreased by 48.3 percent; more than any other music tracked. Combined, rap and hip hop started out selling $2.5 billion worldwide, but by 2009, their sales dropped to $1.3 billion, a 48 percent decrease in sales.
Every genre of music’s sales have decreased due to online piracy and competition from other media, but rap and hip hop took the biggest hit while pop, dance and rock were the least affected. Pop started out with $10.3 billion in retail sales and went down to $7.4 billion between 2000 and 2009.
Second in global popularity, rock, only lost 22.1 percent of its sales. By 2009, genres that came before rap and hip hop included pop, rock, R&B, country, classical and dance. The only genres with lower sales that rap and hip hop were jazz and the unspecified category of “other.”
Why are rap sales declining?
Popular artists like Adele and Gavin McGraw sing about love, life and heartbreak, while many artists in the hip hop/rap industry focus on more provocative subjects.
Senior Denitza Koleva, who likes most types of music, said she looks for calming, meaningful lyrics in her music. This is why she’s not very into genres such as rap and hip hop.
Part of the decline may also be a marketing strategy, as many rap and hip hop are now crossing over to become pop artists.
Many artists that would normally be labeled as rap and hip hop, such as LMFAO, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, David Guetta and J. Cole top the Billboard pop charts because of their catchy tunes. Even Drake’s “Headlines” has been listed as a pop song.
Rihanna and J. Cole are among the most popular crossover stars on the radio right now. What sets their songs apart from normal rap songs is their emphasis on love and relationships.
Rihanna’s “We Found Love” has a catchy chorus about finding love in a hopeless place. This song is obviously a hit with adolescents looking for love.
“Work out” by J Cole has a catchy chorus about relationships: “Aye we got a good thing, don’t know if I’ma see you again. But is that a good thing? ‘Cause girl I can’t be your man, no ma’am. I know what’s on your brain, you prolly’ hope it never would end. Like is it the real thing, or is it just a one-night stand?” The song relates well to today’s fast-paced society where real love is hard to find in a relationship.
Not only are some rap and hip hop songs vulgar, but they often include a lot of unnecessary repetition.
Pop culture includes repetitive songs, too; sometimes repeating entire phrases more than five times at once.
Rap and hip hop however, go as far as to repeat a single word multiple times, “Dance” by Big Sean is a perfect example of this.
Sophomore Dalvell Triplett respects artists such as Drake, Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa because they “keep it real” and don’t rap about shallow subjects.
Indie-pop is sneaking up on America with hits like “Pumped Up Kicks” by up-and-coming band Foster the People and “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele.
“Pumped Up Kicks” is a song about a kid that is losing his mind and, subsequently, is plotting revenge on the popular kids. The lead singer of Foster the People, Mark Foster, explains that the kid is an outcast and he feels it is relevant song to today’s youth that is becoming more and more isolated.
Foster the People’s “Helena Beat” was also the fifth most streamed song in its prime which reached its peak last summer.
“Set Fire to the Rain” is a deep, emotional song, like most of Adele’s songs are. The most popular interpretation of this song is about a girl that meets a guy and quickly and intensely falls for him.
It is clearly evident that genres like pop and indie are taking teenagers’ focus from rap and hip hop. Pop has now made its way to the top as the most popular genre for teenagers. Only time will tell if other genres will continue to attribute to rap’s decreasing popularity.
Rappers Losing Prevalence
Nelly hasn’t been in the spotlight very much lately. His last song to top Billboard’s charts was “Grillz” in 2006. Chingy hasn’t ever had a number one song on Billboard and his peak at number two was in 2004. Birdman’s last album in the top five was in 2005. 50 Cent’s last number one song on Billboard was “Candy Shop” in 2005.
Up-and-coming Alternative Bands
Foster the People
The indie-rock trio, Foster the People, is quickly gaining popularity for their captivating vibes and undeniable style. As of March 10, 2012, their album “Torches” is ranked number 10 on Billboard’s Best-Selling Alternative Albums.
The Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter Wally De Backer, better known by his stage name, Gotye, is taking America by storm. The multi-instrumental musician’s newest album, “Making Mirrors” is ranked number three on Billboard’s Best-Selling Alternative Albums as of March 10.