Why hip hop music is popular in the Whole World?

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This is a very interesting question, and there are so many possible answers. However, the first thing I should point out is that it is also an assumption, ostensibly based on the fact that hip-hop is more of a mainstream genre than metal is. However, a survey among Spotify listeners revealed that, on Spotify at least, metal is the more popular genre by a significant margin.

However, I think I will address why hip-hop is a more popular genre in the greater public imagination than metal. Please keep in mind that my answer will be riddled with guesses, speculation, generalisation and half-formed brain thoughts. Take it with a pinch of salt, and then tell me what you think!

To my mind, some prominent reasons why one genre seems to be more popular are historicalcultural and aesthetic. These three are also fairly closely linked.

 

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Most music genres have a historical context. For example, Blues is struggle music, arising from African-American community, where music was used as a form of protest and expression in the context of segregation and slavery. Blues has a fair amount in common with metal (and metal is Blues’ direct descendent).

Metal’s historical context is very modern, arising first in the early 70’s and 80’s with heavy metal, before broadening into various kinds of mainstream metal, extreme metal, underground metal, and avant-garde metal.

Hip-hop as a genre isn’t much older than metal; however, it is much closer to Blues and its heritage than Metal is, and more approachable.

In terms of culture – Blues and hip-hop, historically speaking, have a cultural affinity with the lower-middle class, whose everyday lives involve challenges that the middle-class and upper-middle-class rarely encounter, and can’t as readily identify with.

Hip-hip is also much more marketable than metal. In an age where music is associated with brands and lifestyles, hip-hop is associated with conspicuous consumption (“bling”), hustling, and being wealthy. Metal doesn’t give a crap about any of these things, and often goes against this mentality entirely – much of metal (and, perhaps more specifically, punk and hardcore) is diametrically opposed to the values of greater society, while hip-hop plays into them, despite being at odds with them at first glance.

Then, aesthetic. This, I think, is the most important reason.

Firstly, metal in general is loud and noisy. It’s not as harmonic and melodic as other genres like pop, hip-hop and jazz. It’s often very atonal, with heavily distorted guitars, cacophonous drums, discordant intervals. One scientific study revealed that the brain processes unfamiliar, harsh or discordant music like metal and atonal jazz as noise instead of music, and can only start to recognise it as music with practice.

Often, metal doesn’t preoccupy itself with being beautiful, and often goes out of its way to be as ugly as possible. This is a huge barrier of entry to people who prefer their music, well… easily listenable. It’s hard work to get into popular kinds of metal, let alone extreme genres like black metal and technical death metal, in which most ideas of what is considered musically beautiful is thrown entirely out of the window.

Metal also deals with issues that are of a much darker aesthetic than more popular, mainstream music does.

For example – In terms of aesthetic, pop is a lowest common denominator (this not a value judgement on all pop, though). Pop music’s themes include love, breakups, individual popularity, everyday life, teen culture, etc – issues that a very broad swathe of society can identify with, from teens to older adults. Pop tends to be happier music in general, which also explains why more people gravitate towards it.

Hip hop and rap music’s themes include money, aspiration, egocentrism, sexual confidence, cultural pride, black consciousness, commercialism in music, gangster culture, and others. Hip-hop has themes that are much more “mature” than pop music; hip hop is popular with many disaffected, disempowered, lower- and lower-middle class people, who are inspired and feel empowered by its aspirational messages, which seem to promise hope of a better life.

Metal’s themes are altogether darker. While hip-hop is hardly tame, metal as a genre is much more ready to venture into the disturbing, the violent, the abstract, and the existential.

Here are a few examples of themes typical of some metal genres:

Black Metal – Nihilism, darkness, emptiness, occultism
Death Metal – Violence, gore, destruction, hatred, aggression
Doom Metal – Depression, loss, grief, loneliness, despair

These are the kinds of things that most music listeners, who prefer happier, less involved subjects, will avoid like the plague. The average metal listener, however, is more comfortable with these subjects and actively seek them out.

(one exception is power metal, which often deals with frivolous things like fantasy, vikings, superheroes, and so on. That’s why it makes great party music. Another is certain kinds of progressive metal, some of which can be very melodic and light)

Metal is by its very nature a music genre for outsiders. Metal has its own mainstream, its own underground, its own streams and communities – it’s almost an entire musical universe on its own, and certainly one of the most diverse musical genres today (if not the most diverse).

Metal is tremendously popular, and you can find metal fans in almost every part of the world. Underestimating the following metal has would definitely be a mistake!

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