UK stars including Central Cee, Dave and Digga D help Rap claim record share of albums market

UK stars including Central Cee, Dave and Digga D help Rap claim record share of albums market

Chart-topping British artists including Central Cee, Dave and Stormzy helped Hip-Hop/Rap claim a record share of the UK albums market in 2022, according to new analysis from the BPI. 

Based on Official Charts Company data, the genre was last year responsible for 12.4% of all album consumption, covering both sales and streams – its highest annual share to date and more than triple the level it achieved in 2015. Only the Rock and Pop genres claimed a bigger share of the market.

While the genre’s growing impact in the albums market can be attributed in part to global Hip-Hop/Rap superstars such as Drake (both solo and with 21 Savage), Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, much of its success is down to domestic artists. These include Central Cee (23), Digga D (Noughty By Nature) and Stormzy (This Is What I Mean), who all made No.1 on the albums chart in 2022.

Other notable homegrown Hip-Hop/Rap successes last year included ArrDee, whose Pier Pressure was 2022’s biggest new debut album by a UK artist; D-Block Europe, led by their mixtape album Home Alone 2; Dave, with his chart-topping albums Psychodrama and We’re All Alone In This Together; and Little Simz, who won the 2022 Mercury Prize with her commercial breakthrough release, Sometimes I Might Be Introverted.

This record-breaking share for Hip Hop/Rap is documented in All About The Music 2023, the 44th edition of the BPI Yearbook.

Back in 2015, Hip-Hop/Rap claimed just 4.0% of the UK’s annual album consumption, a smaller share than Dance, MOR/Easy Listening and R&B. However, in each of the last four years it has commanded 10% or more of the market, and last year it increased its share from 11.9% to 12.4%.

Sophie Jones, BPI chief strategy officer and interim chief executive, said: “As 2023 marks the 50th anniversary since the birth of hip-hop and rap, the genre is showing immaculate timing by celebrating another milestone in its remarkable history and claiming a historic annual share of the UK albums market.

“Hip-hop/rap has been hugely popular with British music fans since The Sugarhill Gang’s ground-breaking hit Rapper’s Delight at the end of the ’70s. But while at one time most of its successes here were exported from across the Atlantic, the UK today has a thriving scene of its own, led by brilliant artists such as Dave, D-Block Europe, Little Simz and Stormzy, to name a few. They and many others in the genre are taking full advantage of the opportunities provided by streaming, which, with record label support, has placed them at the centre of British music culture and is delivering them hugely-deserved success.”

As 2023 marks the 50th anniversary since the birth of hip-hop and rap, the genre is showing immaculate timing by celebrating another milestone

Sophie Jones

Rock continued as the biggest album genre overall for a fifth successive year as its share grew from 36.7% to 37.4% thanks to a combination of heritage artists, including The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac and Queen, and more contemporary stars such as Arctic Monkeys, Liam Gallagher, Muse and The 1975.

Despite having the year’s top three titles with albums by Harry Styles (Harry’s House), Ed Sheeran (=) and Taylor Swift (Midnights), Pop, in second place, saw its share drop year-on-year from 28.4% to 27.2%.

R&B increased to 7.9%, Dance was on 3.3% for a fourth consecutive year and MOR/Easy Listening edged down to 3.0%.

Hip-Hop/Rap also consolidated its position as the third biggest genre on the singles market behind Pop and Rock, as it claimed nearly a fifth (18.9%) of consumption across sales and streams. This was a slight drop on the year before but still more than 70% higher than it achieved in 2015.

Eight of the 10 biggest Hip-Hop/Rap tracks of 2022 were by UK artists, compared to five years earlier when only three of the year-end Top 10 came from homegrown talent. These were led by Dave’s Starlight, which topped the single chart for four weeks and was the only release in the genre to surpass 100 million UK streams last year.  

Domestic success also included hits by D-Block Europe (Overseas feat. Central Cee), Aitch (Baby with Ashanti), Tion Wayne & La Roux (IFTK) and SwitchOTR ft A1 & J1 (Coming For You), joined by international smashes such as Jack Harlow’s First Class and Wait For You by Future featuring Drake & Tems.

Above Hip-Hop/Rap, Pop remained the dominant genre in the singles market, despite its share dropping slightly to 31.9%. Tracks classified as Pop spent 36 weeks at No.1 during 2022, including by Gayle (Abcdefu), Harry Styles (As It Was), Lewis Capaldi (Forget Me), Sam Smith & Kim Petras (Unholy) and Taylor Swift (Anti-Hero). 

In second spot, Rock claimed its biggest share of the market since 2016 with its 21.3% score led by hits from Sam Fender (Seventeen Going Under), Tom Odell (Another Love) and George Ezra (Anyone For You).

Dance had its strongest showing in five years, claiming 10.6% of singles consumption as David Guetta & Bebe Rexha (I’m Good (Blue)), Eliza Rose & Interplanetary Criminal (B.O.T.A. (Baddest Of Them All)) and LF System (Afraid To Feel) all reached No.1. 

R&B’s share of the market was in double figures for the first time since 2018 with its 10.1% share including Fireboy DML & Ed Sheeran’s Peru, Steve Lacy’s Bad Habits and Rema’s Calm Down, which were all classified in the genre.


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