The designation is affirmed by a comprehensive year-end report published by market monitor BuzzAngle, which tracks music consumption data. Far from a fad, hip-hop comes out on top again as the most streamed genre this year, with rap singles consuming 24.7 percent of the streaming market in 2018, or a quarter of all streamed tracks for the year. 2018 shows continued year over year growth for the genre, which previously consumed 20.9 percent of single streams in 2017. The report categorizes urban songs as a combination of rap, hip-hop, and R&B, all amounting to the country’s most streamed genre, beating out pop music three years in a row.
Other trends that have emerged are the rise of pop and the decline of rock. In 2017, rock was right behind hip-hop with a 19.8 percent consumption share, while in 2018, pop overtook rock to take a 19 percent market share. Rock precipitously declined to only a 11.7 percent market share in 2018, even in a year when highly marketable albums from Greta Van Fleet, Smashing Pumpkins, and Stone Temple Pilots among others saw major label releases.
These trends are similarly reflected in album streaming patterns for 2017 and 2018. Although rock album streams superseded rap album streams in 2017, 2018 was a year of major growth for hip-hop and a considerable decline for rock. In a year when everyone from Travis Scott to The Carters, Drake to Anderson .Paak dropped full-length projects, it comes as no surprise that hip-hop dominated nearly a quarter of the streaming market in 2018.
GRiZ has made his soulful return to electronic frontlines with a double-dose of his boogie emblem. In 2018, GRiZ has been wowing funk-friendly crowds near and far, at hallowed venues like Chicago’s Navy Pier and Red Rocks, with the help of his newly instated 15-piece live band.
The two new tracks, “It Gets Better” and “Can’t Get Enough,” mark the end of a year of release dormancy for the longstanding hallmark in the electronic circuit. The latter of offerings ushers in GRiZ’s inaugural vocal display, as the Denver-based producer delivers his own rap verse, over a bout of his characteristically glitchy guitar riffs. Choral supplement runs abound in “It Gets Better,” which features the GRiZ-adjacent proponent of all things “love and positivity,” Virginian rapper, D.R.A.M.. Both tracks fit neatly inside GRiZ’s perpetual good-time arena—while he continues to stretch into formerly untapped artistic reservoirs.
Ice-T knows where there’s a bag to be secured, and his latest venture is bringing him into the EDM game. The Grandfather of Gangsta Rap is perhaps nowadays best known for his 18 year and counting stint on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, along with a wealth of other TV gigs and acting credits. Now, he’s adding A&R to his credentials with the launch of Electronic Beat Empire, described by Ice as, “a serious techno music record label.”
Electronic Beat Empire’s debut release, Hip-Hop DJs Don’t Play Techno features the label’s in-house producer, masked hip-hop stalwart Afrika Islam, under electronic alias Mr. X across 12 new tracks. While Ice-T’s newfound electronic sensibilities may seem like a money grab, the venerated rapper is well ahead of the purists, admitting outright to Rolling Stone, “I am not gonna act like I’m a techno wizard or know anything about it.” In any case, the “OG Original Gangster” is dipping into a genre that famously already takes itself pretty seriously to begin with, but who knows? Maybe Ice-T is the techno savior we didn’t know we needed. Listen to Hip-Hop DJs Don’t Play Techno below.
North American Gucci Mane fans will want to clear their fall calendars as the “I Get The Bag” rapper prepares to embark on a 12-date tour. The “Unusual Suspects” Tour will kick off on November 7 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and will take Gucci through a number of U.S. cities, including Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, and more.
Carnage and Smokepurpp will provide support for all dates, but attendees can expect some additional fanfare during Gucci’s December 27 stop at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. Duly the one show set in Gucci’s hometown and the tour’s finale, the Atlanta date will see a number of surprise guests join the rapper to close out the “Unusual Suspects” tour, given the show’s “Gucci Mane & Friends” titling. Tickets to the tour will go on sale on September 28 at 10 AM EST, and can be purchased here.
Kanye West officially decreed we’re in for a G.O.O.D. summer, announcing via Twitter a slate of five albums that his camp would be delivering across the month of June, starting with Pusha T’s vicious Daytona, immediately followed by Kanye’s long-awaited eighth studio product, ye which debuted at a live listening party in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on June 1. Perhaps even more tantalizing was the confirmation of a joint album between Yeezy and fellow hip-hop trailblazer Kid Cudi. Keeping good on the schedule, Kanye and Cudi have delivered their first full-length collaboration, KIDS SEE GHOSTS.
As with Pusha and Kanye’s previous offerings, Cudi and Ye’s new LP follows the same seven-track design, all wrapped up in cover art by Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami. The record, which continues tropes from West’s ye, features a large supporting cast with contributions spanning from André 3000 to Ty Dolla $ign, including Ratatat’s E*Vax, Mos Def, and posthumous credits from late New Orleans jazz figure Louis Prima, and Kurt Cobain.
The album’s initial upload mislabeled the track titles and order on all DSPs, though you can find the official track list and stream KIDS SEE GHOSTS below.
1. Feel the Love
3. Fourth Dimension [ft. Louis Prima]
4. Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)
6. Kids See Ghosts
7. Cudi Montage
Diplo has dropped off his first solo project since 2013’s Revolution, the new seven-track collection, California.Don’t let the title fool you — random white dude still be everywhere, though nowadays the Mad Decent head leans much more west coast than anything, and lately he’s enjoyed some time in the studio with a batch of rap’s most in-demand young up-and-comers. Recruiting work from Lil Yachty, Desiigner, DRAM, MØ, Goldlink, Trippie Redd, and controversial rhymer on the rise Lil Xan, the new EP sees Diplo reaffirm his status as one of today’s top A&Rs, all rolled up and tightly packed into a wrap fit for pop music’s most ambitious force behind the console.
The EP includes previously released material, including “Look Back, “Get It Right,” and “Worry No More.” Each track on the EP features Diplo’s chameleonic style wrapped around different lyrical deliveries, with each rapper and vocalist obviously inspired by their Californian surroundings in different creative ways. One listen through California highlights just how far the Major Lazer frontman has come since his 2004 debut, Florida — and it’s a lot further than just coast to coast. Florida was the beginning of Diplo’s grind, and California plays a lot more like the type of music one could sit back and watch a young man’s game unfold to. And 15 years after his studio debut landed, its safe to say Diplo has undoubtedly earned that right.
Remember the first time a kid from Chicago really challenged hip-hop’s status quo? He showed us how swapping 808s for chopped soul samples might actually be cool and that skinny jeans and neon Polos could be just as hip-hop as football jerseys and Cartier. He ushered in a new era of hip-hop by allowing himself to be weird and detailing his journey through the come up across three coming-of-age themed albums that have since cemented their places in the hightest echelons of modern hip-hop history. That kid was Kanye West, and nearly two decades after his emergence, his influence has shaped three of the genre’s brightest new torch carriers: Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, and now undisputedly, Towkio.
Each of these three young forward-thinkers are now pushing hip-hop into the future on those same principles, and at times, experimental appeal — though now Towkio is officially planting his flag with his debut LP, WWW. One listen through the new album, and it becomes clear that Towkio’s definition of hip-hop not only sets him apart from most of his contemporaries’, but also that it doesn’t necessarily adhere to current hip-hop conventions either; he doesn’t seem phased in the slightest.
Conceived between the journey from an emerging Chicago rapper to lamping at Rick Rubin’s mythical Malibu recording sanctuary Shangri La, Towkiosets the narrative in WWW.‘s first bars on “Swim,”
“New chapter, new page, made some money off the first mixtape. Now I’m living, good chillin by a beach that’s not a lake. Said the earth controls the moon so we control the waves.”
Relying heavily on these ideas of perspective, frequency and resonant connectivity, the foundational motifs go beyond just the track titles and lyrics. They are weaved into the record’s eclectic complexion of genres, roping together dreamy psychedelic intros, footworking breaks, funk, trap, R&B, and a healthy dose of his throaty vocal hopskotch. Creating the album took the “Drift” rapper to pyramids in Mexico, winding Hawaiian hills, and ultimately 92,000 feet into the atmosphere to quite literally drop his album from a visual vantage point that only a microscoping group of humans in history have ever witnessed.
Sonically, the record plays upon hip-hop’s new wave versatility, with a welcomed serving of pop appeal on tracks like “Hot S**t,” the Teddy Jackson-assisted “Symphony,” and a cheeky breakbeat cut on “Disco.” Louis The Child‘s contribution to the album, “Loose,” opens like it’s the much needed mid-record breather, before quickly tightening down and breaking into a rambunctious collection of bombastic kicks and tenacious spits.
The real respite, however, comes as one of the album’s final additions — a sleepy R&B piece alongside Grammy-nominated SZA called “Morning View.” Throughout its 13-track span, celestial trains of thought play a key aesthetic role in WWW.‘s compilation, culminating on pieces like “Alone” and “2 Da Moon.” Such a theme is not unlike the early outputs of fellow unconventionals like Kanye and Kid Cudi.
photo credit: Lenny Gilmore
Towkio showcases his inextricable acceptance of weirdness, and unapologetically declares it cool in his own way as well. It isn’t cookie-cutter rap music, and it wouldn’t be true to Towkio if it was. If still not skeptical about the Yeezy coming-of-age parallels, listen to him and Vic Mensa go in with brilliant, youthful defiance on “Forever” and tell me it doesn’t sound like the logically matured progression to West’s seminal classic, “We Don’t Care.”
On paper, WWW. is built by a team of sharp industry power players, with Lido behind the console raking in substantial writing and producing credits with Knox Fortune and frequent SZA songwriter Carter Lang, all beneath the legendary Rick Rubin’s watchful eye. Together, a seemingly motley crew of differently-wired creators have come together to aid in the delivery of Towkio’s triumphant longform debut — a relatable narrative of introspection and simultaneous emergence, all wrapped up in the underlying concept of the “overview effect” and how we relate to the daily risks we all take living on this big blue rock with one another.
Nowadays, the burgeoning rapper keeps his head in the stars, his feet in the California sand, and he’s survived a plummet from space that would humble anyone. Towkio has officially staked his claim in his corner of the ever-growing hip-hop empire, and in two more decades from now, who knows how WWW. will inspire an entirely new generation of rappers?
Diplo recently added his two cents to the NBA’s All Star weekend, dropping off an hourlong basketball-themed mixtape, Give & Go. Following a recent stylistic shift with DRAM on “Look Back,” the Mad Decent head revisits his firmly planted hip-hop roots, coming through with a souped-up ode to America’s most popular genre.
The new mix rounds together a rhyming highlight reel that includes cuts from Lil Uzi Vert, Drake, Kodak Black, N.E.R.D., Rae Sremmurd, Vince Staples and more. Rifling through the rap crate in honor of the annual weekend NBA festivities, LeBlonde James aka the Moombahton Malone laces up a mix packed with the top trending selects of the moment along with a handful of crossover remixes to glue it all together.
Kendrick Lamar, Baauer, Travis Scott, and Skrillex all make appearances in the new Give & Go mixtape, and with Diplo’s hiatus from solo work nearing an end with his impending California EP, perhaps fans can expect a heavy hip-hop motif on the upcoming release. Until then, enjoy this new 30-track roundup from EDM’s Flairry Bird.
Getter has donned his Terror Reid moniker to roll up a hazy new hip-hop cut, “Cruisin,” with his Instagram-famous comedian buddy Nick Colletti, and damned if it isn’t tasty. A total recall to hip-hop’s golden moment of the late 90s and early 2000s, the track is equipped with the familiar scratchy bounce of Cam’Ron and Juelz Santana’s “Hey Ma,” and piano chords emulating Biggie Small’s postmortem “1970 Something,” all wrapped up in tongue-in-cheek rhymes about blunts and sandwiches as the “suhh dudes” swap loose verses.
One can’t help but smile and bop along with the track’s goofy, simple hook, “Oh, here we go, head out the window, beats banging in the stereo, ayy” and imagine themselves doing the exact same thing.
“Crusin,” out now via Getter’s Shred Collective, isn’t groundbreaking work by any means, but it’s the perfect for a drive and a toke — so turn this one up, roll the windows down, and smoke ’em if you got ’em.
Ansel Elgort is a man of many talents. Beyond his film debut in the 2013 remake of Carrie, Elgort’s career has since flourished with numerous roles, most notably in The Fault In Our Stars and Baby Driver. In addition to this, he has also had reasonable success as a producer by the name of Ansolo and was a mainstage performer at Ultra Music Festival 2015.
Though his acting career has taken a turn towards superstardom, Elgort still releases music as Ansolo. The most recent addition to his musical portfolio is a hip-hop, trap hybrid track,”Supernova.” The track is pretty basic, combining auditory elements of hip-hop with trap percussion and Elgort’s melancholic vocals.