Hip-Hop’s Middle Class Is Disappearing — And It’s Leaving Rap In A Rut

Hip-Hop Editor
08.22.17 6 Comments

Getty Image / Uproxx

All genres go through ebbs and flows. Pop, rock, R&B, soul, funk, jazz, punk, metal, disco — they’ve all been through this, and so has everything in between. Right now, even though rap and hip-hop edged out rock to become the most popular genre in America, it’s been starting to feel like the it has reached a temporary creative dead end. Yes, hip-hop, despite or maybe even because of its popularity, is in a rut — or maybe at a crossroads. There are either superstars and young upstarts, and it seems like the middle ground is a no-man’s land that just can’t be crossed. How could this happen, in spite of rap’s newfound residence at the top of the charts?

Well, looking at the charts a rather strange phenomenon emerges. The same names hold the same positions over an absolutely insane amount of time. Jay-Z has been among hip-hop’s top sellers for two decades, closely followed by Eminem and Kanye West.

The only artists to debut within the last decade on a similar level of continued chart success are Drake, whose Billboard Hot 100 streak only ended last week after eight years, and only after he refused to support his most recent release, More Life, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar, whose newest album DAMN. has fluctuated in position but held fast within the top five since its release in mid-April.

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