Last month, Tuma Basa, Director of Black Music and Culture at YouTube, wrote a blog detailing the ways hip-hop has become the dominate genre on YouTube. In the blog, titled “If you don’t know, now you know,” Tuma writes:
“… between October through December 2020, hip-hop was the most-viewed music genre on YouTube in the U.S… hip-hop artists occupied all 10 spots in YouTube’s top 10 most-viewed artists in the U.S. list last year, meaning its influence on culture is not just here to stay, it’s increasing. Facts!”
Hip-hop being the no. 1 genre on YouTube shouldn’t be that surprising to fans of popular music. What’s surprising is the type of hip-hop artists that are dominating. While, yes, State Farm-ready artists like Drake still get monster streaming numbers, rough-around-the-edges rappers from the South run YouTube’s top 10 list, generating billions of streams on the platform. The most streamed rapper on YouTube in 2020 was YoungBoy Never Broke Again. Right behind him are rappers like Lil Baby, Rod Wave (who just had an album that went no. 1 ), and Kevin Gates. According to Tuma, it’s because the era of streaming has brought in a climate that is democratized.
“We’re finding out that those of us in the gatekeeper class, we’re not gatekeepers anymore,” Basa said over a Google Meet conference in mid April.