I am frustrated when people who both listen to rap and don’t listen to rap, talk about mainstream rap music as if that represents the majority of all rap music. When the truth is, mainstream rap music, represents roughly maybe 1 to 3% at most of the entire rap genre.
Do me a favor for a second, think about mainstream rap. Think about all the rappers and rap groups that make up mainstream rap, and by mainstream rap I mean the music you hear on the radio, the real big names that all of your friends listen to or at least know the name of (not some of your friends, all of your friends). If you were to count the list of rappers that you consider popular, and no not used to be popular, not you happen to know the name of, but I mean who you and other people that you know would agree our currently popular rappers,. If you count the list of names, you are going to come up with maybe 2 or 3 dozen rappers/rap groups and thats pushing it.
Its important to note that at any given time there is 12 to 36 rappers or rap groups that can be considered “mainstream” or popular rap because in all actuality there are thousands upon thousands of professional rappers across the america’s and if you include the world I am pretty positive it could be more then 10,000 professional rappers.
That’s why I wrote this article.
To help people understand there are levels to this shit!
Level 6 – Local Name
- has 500 to 3000 followers on sound cloud, IG, or YouTube.
- one of the artists whose name is commonly seen on flyers for local shows.
- Views/plays for the majority of their tracks/videos, get 1 – 10k views. (An artist who has 1 video that has 2 to 10k views and all the other videos are under 1 K views does not count as a local name.)
- The majority of their plays are going to be coming from one area/region, which is most likely the artists hometown.
Examples: Mars Jackson, Tank Chamberlain
Level 5 – Local Star / Tri State
- Has 3K – 10 K followers on sound cloud, IG, or YouTube
- Views/plays for the majority of their tracks/videos, get 5 – 20k views. (An artist who has 1 video that has 5 –20K views and all the other videos are under 2.5 K views does not count as a Local Star / Tri State)
- The majority of their plays are going to be coming from 3 areas/regions which are most likely the artists hometown/state, and the immediate areas surrounding their home region. For example, a Pittsburgh artist who has gotten to level 5 will most likely have their three most popular areas/regions for plays / views be 1. Pittsburgh, PA 2. Morgantown, West Virginia, 3. Cleveland, Ohio or a Port St. Lucie, Florida artist might have their top 3 locations be 1. Port St. Lucie, FL , 2. Tampa, Floida 3. Atlanta, GA
- The artists music is starting to get posted and talked about on smaller blogs.
Examples: Ketchy The Great, Hooligan Chase, Icy Narco
Level 4 – Minor Leagues
- Has 10K to 50K followers on sound cloud, IG, or YouTube
- Views/plays for the majority of their tracks/videos, get around 30 to 50 K views, but they also have at least a couple videos / tracks that have gotten 6 figure view counts and possibly even into the low 7 figures.
- The majority of their Instagram posts get at least 1,000 likes each time.
- Music is being recognized and posted by bigger blogs and youtube channels.
- They are being featured on tracks by bigger artists, for example Travis Thompson being on the new Macklemore album or Riff Raff remixing a Lil Toenail track.
Examples: Travis Thompson, Lil Toenail, Mikey Mike
Level 3: Raps middle class
This is the hardest one to quantify because it is so varied. There are rappers who I will name as examples that you will know as being some of the biggest names in hip hop either right now or at a different time. This is the level where hip hop veterans, big names in obscure sub genres, and minor names in larger subgenres, exist. This is the realm that a majority of professional hip hop artists careers exist in.
Some characteristics of rappers in this category include:
- Has anywhere from 50K followers to 500,000 followers on sound cloud, IG, or YouTube.
- Views/plays for the majority of their tracks/videos, get around 100,000 to 500,000K views, but they also have a good amount of videos / tracks that have gotten millions to tens of millions of views.
- They are a commonly written about name on blogs and their music is commonly featured.
- They tour frequently.
First, look at the list of names I am using as examples:
- Young Buck
- Lil Pump
- Lil Wyte
- Yoni Wolf
- 36 Mafia
- Juicy J
- Immortal Technique
as you can see the examples of who is in the middle class ranges.
Essentially these are the artists who have legitimate careers and no other job outside of Hip Hop. Yet they aren’t the names absolutely everyone knows.
Level 2 – the major leagues
- examples would be migos, chance the rapper, kid cudi, boosie, J. Cole, Macklemore, wiz khalifa, Young Thug
- this artist has anywhere from 1 million to 10 million followers on their social media platforms.
- they have an avid / hard core fan base, of around 750K to 1 million listeners. However, they arent as globally recognized or nationally known as the very top tier.
- these are the biggest rap names in rap right before you get to the top level.
Level 1 – Top Tier
Jay Z, Drake, Eminem, Nicki Minaj, you get it.