In 2017, hip hop surpassed rock as the most popular genre according to Nielsen’s year end music report. This was due to rappers like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Migos and Lil Uzi Vert having huge years respectively. The main reason why Hip Hop was able to get to the level it is today is due to its culture — not the Migos album, but its actual fan culture.
Rap culture is extremely intertwined with everything in American culture that now rap impacts not just what people listen to, but also in what they say, think, want and do.
Rap culture has become second nature to so many people that people that don’t even listen to hip hop unknowingly take part in it. Rap culture has been able to do this through little things like slang and memes.
Slang words have always been a part of people’s daily conversations, but slang used to be far more localized. Now slang can be almost universal because a rapper uses their local slang and when the song blows up everyone starts using words like “drip,” “plug,” and “lit” in everyday conversations even though they have no idea where it’s from.
Memes played a big part in this. It seems like every other day the there is a new rap related meme being shared everywhere and it influences the way we use those words and phrases.
When Bobby Shmurda came out with his hit song “Hot Boy” it was almost impossible to go an increment of time without thinking of that song. “About a week ago” was a phrase that as soon as you said it evoked the song itself.
The same can be said of the phrase “I hope so.” That phrase is now forever Kodak Black’s due to rap culture loving the way he said it in an interview.
Since the dawn of time everyone has wanted to live the rapper lifestyle — the exotic cars, expensive clothes, flashy chains and the party every night attitude. This has not just carried from previous rap generations to the present one, but it’s also carrying over into mainstream culture. More and more people are trying their best to get as close to that lifestyle as they possibly can.
This can also be seen with fashion today. Brands like Champion and Kappa were practically dead until rap culture made them relevant again. Rap culture have also helped make certain brands even bigger than they already were. Brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Bape and Supreme have profited from rappers giving those brands cosigns in their songs and outfits. Diamond sales have also increased over the years alongside rap music and it’s not a coincidence. A big part of being a rapper is having a chain or at least some type of diamonds on. Rap culture has made jewelry a very hot commodity and diamond sales have reflected this.
Retail sales of diamond jewelry worldwide totaled an estimated US $77.5 billion in 2017, up from $74.6 billion in 2016. It only makes sense that if the biggest music genre, which happens to reference diamonds, that diamond sales would increase along with the genre.
Rap culture is also making its way into politics. From Obama referencing Jay-Z in a democratic primary speech to Meek Mill starting a huge prison reform wave.
Rap culture is finally having its impact felt in a big way and this has been a goal since N.W.A made its debut.