A new study by way of two London universities has presented concrete proof that rap music is the most important genre between 1960 and 2010. Published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, the study samples over 17,000 songs that appeared on the Billboard 100 during the indicated period. They concluded that rap caused the most dramatic shifts on the charts.
“The rise of rap and related genres appears, then, to be the single most important event that has shaped the musical structure of the American charts in the period that we studied,” it reads.
According to CNN, the study analyzed 30-second clips of the songs selected, grouping them based on harmony and timbre. The team then hooked up with Last.fm to determine the genre and styles of the music, to then analyze trends in their popularity based on chart performance.
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By contrast, Styles 5 and 13, strongly enriched for rock-related tags, fluctuate in frequency, while Style 2, enriched for rap-related tags, is very rare before the mid-1980s but then rapidly expands to become the single largest Style for the next thirty years, contracting again in the late 2000s. On category in particular, H5, refers to an “absence of an identifiable chord structure,” most found in rap music.
“H5 starts to become more frequent in the late 1980s and then rises rapidly to a peak in 1993. This represents the rise of Hip Hop, Rap and related genres, as exemplified by the music of Busta Rhymes, Nas, and Snoop Dogg, who all use chords particularly rarely.”
The study was conducted to dispel opinions about trends in popular music that have not been solidified by science, one of the study’s authors, Armand Leroi, told CNN.
“We had a sense that lots of people have opinions about popular music, but nobody has any objective evidence,” he said.
Read the full Royal Society Open Science study here.