Throughout the last hundred years, different genres have had the honor to hold the mantle of most popular music in America. In July, history was made as Nielson reported in their mid-year 2017 music report that Hip-Hop has become the most popular genre in America for the first time in history. This past year Hip Hop narrowly beat rock as the most listened to music in America as 25.1% of all music consumption is Hip Hop compared to Rock’s slightly lower 23%.
According to Forbes, music streaming is what is changing the landscape of Americans’ consumption of music. For instance, while 40% of all album purchases in the U.S. last year were for Rock albums, while 29% of all on-demand music streams were for Hip-Hop/R&B songs. What is significant about these numbers is album sales continues to drop as streaming becomes the most dominant form of music consumption in America.
One cannot disregard the meaning of Hip Hop music overtaking rock music as the most listened to music in America. When Rock and Roll music became popular many efforts were made to censor it and its artist. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gives countless examples dating back to the 1950s where efforts were made to censor music legends like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Many censors did not like American Rock music because it brought together different genres of music from racially diverse backgrounds for a multicultural audience. Since American Rock became popular in the 1950 and 1960s, it has diversified with different generations and individuals being able to express themselves through unique styles of Rock like Psychedelic rock, Punk Rock, and Country Rock just to say a few.
Similar to Rock and Roll, people attempted to censor Hip Hop musicians and their music. Often rappers felt that their ability to express themselves and their art was censored. There are countless examples chronicled by Spin where different attempts of Rap censorship were made during the 90s. However, Hip Hop’s new title as the most consumed music in America, closely followed by Rock is a testament to how far music expression in America has come and how the advances in technology, like digital music, has helped usher in that change and crown Hip Hop music King.