For the first time ever, hip-hop/R&B surpassed rock to become the biggest music genre in terms of total consumption in the entirety of North America, according to Nielsen Music’s 2018 year-end report. Hip-hop artists like Drake and Kendrick Lamar had record breaking years in 2018 and their popularity continues to soar. The future of hip-hop looks very promising as it is quickly rising to being the top music genre across all continents.

Thanks to streaming, the growth of the music genre increased dramatically. Throughout all music genres, streaming accounts for more than 54% of total music consumption, which is the highest it has ever been. Album and song sales were down in 2018, but streaming surged in its place, growing 43% since 2017. With more than 400 billion streams in 2018, hip-hop is showing up on more playlists, top charts, and radio plays. In fact, streaming has become so prominent that 19 songs in 2018 passed over 500 million streams. 17 of those songs were from the hip-hop/music genre. Eight of the ten most listened to artists of the year and four of five of the Grammy nominees for Album of the Year, were also from this genre.

The top content that propelled hip-hop into one of the largest music genres in the world, is a tricky debate. Which albums of 2018 shined through the most? According to Billboard’s top hip-hop albums of 2018, their list looked quite similar to mine. At number ten, they had Championships from Meek Mill, just barely beating out J. Cole’s KOD at the eleventh spot. Coming in at number nine, is Jay Rock’s Redemption, then Noname’s Room 25. They had The Carter V from Lil Wayne at number seven, and Tierra Whack’s Whack World at the sixth spot. Starting the top five is Astroworld from Travis Scott, followed by Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap. At number three is Everything is Love by The Carters, or Beyonce and Jay-Z. In second place is Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy and last but not least, coming in at first place is none other than Pusha T’s Daytona produced by the great Kanye West.

In contrast with my top 10, Riverside student Ricardo Blood offered his as well to compare with Billboard. “From number ten to one, I had: Astroworld from Travis Scott, Oxnard from Anderson .Paak, DiCaprio 2 from J.I.D., Kids See Ghosts by Kanye West and Kid Cudi, Pieces of a Man by Mick Jenkins, also from Kanye West, Ye, Testing from A$AP Rocky. Starting the top three is Mac Miller’s Swimming, Pusha T’s Daytona, and at number one, KOD by J. Cole.” Blood’s top ten begins with FM! From Vince Staples, Queen by Nicki Minaj, the Black Panther movie soundtrack, Ye by Kanye West, The Carter V by Lil Wayne, Everything is Love from The Carters, and at number four is Kids See Ghosts from Kanye West and Kid Cudi. Blood’s top three begins with J.I.D.’s DiCaprio 2, BROCKHAMPTON’s Iridescence, and at number one, Daytona by Pusha T. In comparison, our opinions versus Billboard’s are very similar.

As 2019 rolls around, it is sure to be filled with new music by more hip-hop artists. Maybe someone other than Drake will dominate the charts this year, and maybe Kanye West will steal someone else’s attention off of an award show. The only thing for certain is the that there’s a great wave of music on its way.