Rap music has been around since the 1970s. However, with each generation, new technologies have meant a change in the means of consumption. When hip-hop emerged, sales were calculated based on the number of physical 12″ vinyls sold. This method then began to take into account the number of cassette tapes sold, and this was how rap was consumed well into the mid-1980s.
However, the 1990s saw a shift to CDs, and the sale of vinyl began to decline slowly. Fortunately, this smaller, shinier disc was still physical. But in 2003, when the iTunes Store released a feature for purchasing and downloading digital music, sales entered a non-physical era.
At first, this was fine as people were still purchasing and downloading music, which was easily quantifiable. However, in the late 2000s, platforms such as MySpace and Spotify began to appear, where the public could access popular music for free. This was problematic for institutions such as the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), as it was impossible to equate one play of a single to the sale of an entire album.
The problem only continued and created havoc when Spotify released its service in the US. Ever since, artists and institutions alike have been concerned about the way streaming has skewed and distorted album sales. Nicki Minaj fought against bundles in 2018—a system utilised by musicians where albums are sold to individuals involuntarily under the guise of other items.
Often, artists sell merchandise such as T-shirts and sweatshirts without allowing fans to purchase them as singular items. As such, fans must buy a bundle with a copy of the physical album to get clothes.
Artists use many other tricks, such as releasing shorter songs so fans are incentivised to replay the track. All of this is to say that the consumption of rap music is highly complicated with streaming. Still, nonetheless, people use platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music to listen to music.
However, some tracks get listened to more than others. Below, you can see the ten most streamed rap songs of all time.
The 10 most streamed rap songs of all time:
10. ‘Industry Baby’ – Lil Nas X ft Jack Harlow – 1,630,000,000 streams
9. ‘SICKO MODE’ – Travis Scott ft Drake – 1,760,000,000 streams
8. ‘Humble’ – Kendrick Lamar – 1,770,000,000 streams
7. ‘XO Tour Llif3’ – Lil Uzi Vert – 1,810,000,000 streams
6. ‘Jocelyn Flores’ – XXXTentacion – 1,860,000,000 streams
5. ‘GOOSEBUMPS’ – Travis Scott ft. Kendrick Lamar – 1,870,000,000 streams
4. ‘Sad!’ – XXXTentacion – 1,950,000,000 streams
3. ‘God’s Plan’ – Drake – 2,086,000,000 streams
2. ‘Lucid Dreams’ – Juice WRLD – 2,120,000,000 streams
1 ‘One Dance’ – Drake ft. Wizkid and Kyla – 2,500,000,000 streams