Rap hit a new highpoint in 2019, achieving record shares in terms of both singles and album consumption according to Official Charts Company data analysed and released today by record labels association, the BPI.
The analysis, compiled from both purchases and streams of albums and tracks, found that releases classified by the Official Charts Company as Rap/Hip Hop accounted for historically high shares in 2019.
In the singles market, releases from the genre comprised well over a fifth (21.5%) of all consumption – up from 20.9 per cent in 2018, and a new high since the BPI began analysing the genre’s share in 1998.
Most remarkable is that in the five years from 2015 to 2019, UK artists’ share of Rap’s sales and streams increased from 10.0% to 26.9% on albums and from 15.5% to 42.2% on singles.
James Walsh, General Manager Neighbourhood Recordings – the label owned by Dave's managers Benny Scarrs and Jack Foster and whom Dave releases on, said:
"It's great to see Rap at the heart of popular culture and to see how big its footprint has evolved and grown over the last few years. There's so many talented British artists within the genre that are connecting with people of all backgrounds on their own terms, and that's really powerful. Audiences today are very tuned in – artists who are the most authentic to themselves have shown time and time again that integrity in their message and music wins out."
While American artists such as Post Malone and Lil Nas X were among those to have the biggest hits last year, UK talent really came to the fore: Stormzy achieved his first ever Official Singles Chart No.1 with Vossi Bop, and both AJ Tracey (Ladbroke Grove) and Aitch (Taste (Make It Shake)) made the top three. In addition, there were top 10 hits for British artists such as Dave, Russ & Tion Wayne, Young T & Bugsey and Mist among others.
It was also a stellar year for UK rappers in the artist albums market, in which Rap/Hip Hop claimed a 10.8 per cent share. Stormzy took Glastonbury by storm with a triumphant headline slot, while his December-released second album Heavy Is The Head went on to give him another number one. There was also great success for Dave, commercially and critically – his debut Psychodrama went straight to No.1 on the Official Albums Chart on its release in March, and in September was awarded the Mercury Prize for Album of the Year. Both Dave and Stormzy were recognized at the 2020 BRITs, with Dave picking up British Album of the Year and Stormzy honoured as British Male Solo Artist. They also gave memorable spectacular performances on the night, with the power of their message resonating well outside the domed walls of the O2.
Other UK artists enjoying top 10 album success in 2019 included AJ Tracey (with his self-titled full-length debut, which reached number three), D-Block Europe (two top 10 albums in 2019), Skepta, Mostack, Loyle Carner, Fredo, Slowthai, Kano and Krept & Konan. There were also top 10 placings for the American-born Post Malone (a No.1 album in September with Hollywood’s Bleeding), Tyler The Creator (winner of Best International Male Solo Artist at the 2020 BRIT Awards), Kanye West and NF.
Recent years have also seen a number of female artists achieve notable success in what has often been seen as a male-dominated genre. UK performers such as Kate Tempest and Little Simz have had albums shortlisted for the Hyundai Mercury Prize (the latter making the shortlist with her 2019-released Grey Area), with Stefflon Don scoring Platinum singles with both Hurtin’ Me (with French Montana) and Boasty (with Wiley, Sean Paul and Idris Elba). US rapper Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy made the top five of the Official Albums Chart and one of the breakout stars of 2019, Lizzo, has roots firmly in the Hip Hop/Rap scene, while artists such as Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat look set for great success in 2020.
Hip Hop and Rap’s profile has not always been as prominent in the UK market – its share has been as low as 3.6 per cent in the singles market (in 1999) and 1.7 per cent in the albums market (1998). In the early-to-mid 2000s it enjoyed a rich seam of success, however, climbing to 13.7 per cent of singles sold and 6.4 per cent of albums in 2004 through artists such as Eminem, Outkast and The Streets. Since then its share has fluctuated but its rise in recent years, including the resurgence of Grime, has been remarkable – its share of singles consumption in 2019 (21.5%) is almost twice that recorded as recently as 2015 (11.0%). In 2019 it was second only in the singles share table behind Pop (33.1%), and third in the albums table, behind Rock (38.0%) and Pop (27.5%).
Early indications for Rap/Hip Hop in 2020 remain encouraging, with the genre landing three of the top 10 albums of the first quarter – by Stormzy (Heavy Is The Head), Eminem (Music To Be Murdered By) and J Hus (Big Conspiracy).
The BPI’s annual yearbook All About the Music 2020 gives a detailed insight into the year in UK recorded music in 2019 through lots of facts, figures and informed analysis.
“All About The Music 2020” is available free to all BPI members and can be purchased from the BPI’s website here.