Rap reigns


Issue: "Year in Review 2004," Jan. 1, 2005

Rap music now completely dominates American pop music. Along with a revived R&B (what used to be called "soul music"), the so-called "urban music" from mostly black artists is monopolizing the Grammy nominations, racking up the most radio play, and, most importantly, topping the sales charts. According to a report from Vibe magazine, in the first half of 2004, looking at the top 50 songs, R&B/hip hop accounted for 56 percent of sales. Pop accounted for 18 percent, rock 14 percent, and country 12 percent.

The form is maturing. Not all rap, also known as hip hop, is "gangsta rap," celebrating crime, drugs, sex, and mayhem (though that form is still popular). Many other styles have emerged. Kanye West, who earned 10 Grammy nominations for his kinder and gentler rap, had one of the biggest singles of the year with "Jesus Walks."

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