Stormzy, Dave & more lead the charge as rap & hip-hop soar in the UK

Stormzy, Dave & more lead the charge as rap & hip-hop soar in the UK

New statistics from the BPI have revealed that rap and hip-hop now accounts for more than a fifth of singles consumption in the UK, as streaming fired a surge in growth in 2020.

Titles classified as rap and hip-hop by the Official Charts Company made up 22% of UK singles consumption in 2020, while its share of the albums market was 12.2%. Both figures are new peaks. When BPI genre analysis began in 1999, rap and hip-hop made up 3.6% of the singles market and 2.0% of the albums market.

Stormzy tops the singles and albums charts for UK rap and hip-hop in 2020 with Burna Boy/Ed Sheeran collaboration Own It (1,406,276 sales) and Heavy Is The Head (331,454) respectively. Heavy Is The Head also tops the international chart.

Alongside British talent – which made up 33.6% of rap and hip-hop singles consumption last year – international acts including Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Juice Wrld and Doja Cat are sparking huge numbers.The prominence and streaming power of a raft of artists including Stormzy, Dave, J Hus, Nines, Headie One – who Music Week named Breakthrough Artist Of The Year in 2020 – and many more means the picture is very different, and the latest figures come after six successive years of growth.

The BPI figures showcase the new wave of British talent coming through, with S1mba, Bree Runway, Flohio and more all tipped for further success.

Tracks by S1mba, AJ Tracey, Dave and Headie One all notched more than 50 million plays in the UK in 2020, while those artists – along with Bugzy Malone, M Huncho, Young T & Bugsey  and more – all scored more than 100m UK plays across their catalogues.

Multimedia broadcaster Jasmine Dotiwala said: ”In the 90s, when I started working as a young Hip hop fan and TV presenter, I was told that Rap and Hip Hop would be a fleeting genre not to be taken seriously, especially the UK sound. Now it's woven into the fabric of mainstream Pop culture – the power of Hip-hop and the influence of UK talent can be seen at every turn.

“Many of us have been privileged to have been allowed a seat at the table of rap and hip-hop culture by the Black community – the culture has given many people across various classes, ethnicities, locations and generations a career and chance to champion the music we love and enjoy. 

“To see how successful British rap voices across cultures are soaring with success is something we always knew was possible, we just needed the internet and streaming services to galvanise the British rap and hip-hop movements’ DIY ethos. To the musicians, their teams, the multiple media platforms, radio DJs, producers,  live events teams, music journalists, those who champion the music and culture relentlessly and the music lovers.... Congratulations!” 

We just needed the internet and streaming services to galvanise the British rap and hip-hop

Jasmine Dotiwala

Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson, editor-in-chief, Complex UK/founder, Trench Magazine, said: “To know how much Black British music has impacted the music industry at large is something that I couldn’t be more proud of. From the days when grime and UK rap was an afterthought in mainstream spaces, to now being a driving force in the UK’s musical landscape – it just goes to show that with great music and an even greater work ethic, the sky really is the limit. Dave, Stormzy, Ghetts, J Hus et al – some of our finest lyricists – are getting their flowers at the best point of their careers, and they deserve every last bit of it.

“We also shouldn’t forget the importance of the grime resurgence that took place in 2014 and lasted a few years because the work that Skepta, Novelist, AJ Tracey and more put in laid the foundation for a lot of the chart invasion/BRITs nominations that we’re seeing today.”

Former artist Cookie Pryce said: “I have been fully immersed in this thing called rap/hip-hop from the very early ’80s and I for one have never been prouder of Black British Music and the direction that it is growing. I am as excited today as I was over three decades ago except now, we have transparency, and we have the data! Independence and authenticity have played a key part of this success; our artists (front of house) and executives (backstage), THEY have reclaimed the culture and pushed boundaries and are fearless of retaliation. We finally have superstars with fire in their souls!

“To me, rap and hip-hop has always been the backbone to our great industry, something that everyone wants a piece of, and its popularity is no phenomenon, it's just pure genius in the way that it evolves and reinvents itself. Sign of the times and salute to everyone that's making this happen. I am and will always be hip-hop.”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “A glimpse of this year’s BRITs nominees shows the extent to which rap and hip-hop now occupies music’s centre ground. The genre has exploded in recent years, propelled by artists such as Stormzy, Dave and Little Simz, who are creating a new narrative for British music and are leading a rising wave of British talent that is harnessing the power of streaming to achieve chart success.”


2020 Official Top 10 UK Rap & Hip Hop singles © Official Charts Company

1.   Stormzy/Ed Sheeran/Burna Boy - Own It
2.   S1mba ft. DTG - Rover
3.   Aitch / AJ Tracey / Tay Keith - Rain
4.   AJ Tracey ft Mostack - Dinner Guest
5.   Young T & Bugsey ft. Headie One - Don’t Rush
6.   Headie One /AJ Tracey / Stormzy - Ain’t It Different
7.   Dave ft. Burna Boy - Location
8.   AJ Tracey - Ladbroke Grove
9.   Tion Wayne / Dutchavelli / Stormzy - I Dunno
10.  Stormzy - Vossi Bop 

2020 Official Top 10 UK Rap & Hip Hop albums © Official Charts Company

1.   Stormzy - Heavy Is The Head
2.   J Hus - Big Conspiracy
3.   Dave - Psychodrama
4.   KSI - Dissimulation
5.   D-Block Europe - PTSD
6.   M Huncho - Huncholini the 1st
7.   D-Block Europe - Street Trauma
8.   AJ Tracey - AJ Tracey
9.   J Hus - Common Sense
10.  Nines - Crabs In A Bucket 

2020 Official Top 5 Rap & Hip Hop singles © Official Charts Company

1.   Saint Jhn - Roses
2.   Stormzy/Ed Sheeran/Burna Boy - Own It
3.   Roddy Ricch - The Box
4.   Doja Cat - Say So
5.   S1mba ft. DTG - Rover 

2020 Official Top 5 Rap & Hip Hop albums © Official Charts Company

1.   Stormzy - Heavy Is The Head
2.   Pop Smoke - Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon
3.   Eminem - Music To Be Murdered By
4.   Post Malone - Hollywood’s Bleeding
5.   Juice Wrld - Legends Never Die 

PHOTO: Official Charts Company

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