Hip-hop fans saw six different rappers with No. 1 albums at the beginning of June: Gunna’s DS4Ever, Lil Durk’s 7220, Tyler, The Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost, Pusha T’s It’s Almost Dry, Future’s I Never Liked You and Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.
According to Billboard, the downturn results from the “most popular and reliable artists,” such as Megan Thee Stallion and Young Thug, refraining from releasing new music because of mental and legal problems.
Artists with longevity like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj and J. Cole, who were dubbed “the Mount Rushmore of the 2010s” and “are still going strong and outperforming the genre’s younger stars.”
“It’s not just a hip-hop thing; pop’s market share is down too,” Dave Gordon, a streaming consultant and manager, shared, Billboard reported.
“Obviously, when you’re at the top and the No. 1 genre, which some people in the music business dislike, you have a bullseye on you,” he continued. “And the stat about No. 1’s feels like a, ‘yes, finally!’ type of thing from an industry that was never entirely comfortable with hip-hop’s dominance and may be hoping its lead continues to narrow.”
These concerns erupted on rap Twitter and sparked think pieces and aspirational marketing strategies.
“No real hip-hop fans or artist for that matter use Billboard as a metric to determine the state of rap music or their own success in 2023,” one hip-hop fan tweeted. “It was created strictly for labels & is super dated in today’s age.”
“Hip-hop music needs to refocus on the dance element of the culture. There is too much rap music focused on servicing stripper culture and not enough focus on other types of dance environments,” another hip-hop fan tweeted as the conversation continued. “Even the self-proclaimed ‘Emcees’ need to figure out how to incorporate hip-hop dance.”
Some of the genre’s industry executives see the most recent data as a cry for a change in the genre’s course, as some executives believe that there is a “lack of innovation.” According to Ebro Darden, there have been rumblings that major record labels aren’t currently trying to sign as many rappers. The legendary radio show host said he just had a phone conversation that was quite enlightening regarding the situation of the music industry in a tweet posted on Thursday, Aug. 17.
“I got a call saying… ‘It should be noted many major record labels have deprioritized signing rappers,” Darden wrote. “The focus is now African Music & Latin Music rappers better stop being boring and talking about the same sh*t over and over, chasing TikTok success and comment sections.’”
Will we see rappers wake up and take heed of the warning?