Throughout history, every genre of music has exploded onto the scene through some form of media. Symphonies had the opera, jazz had its notorious clubs, and rock ‘n roll dominated the frequencies of radio. In the dawn of the mp3 age of iPods and things similar the genre of ‘pop’ has seemingly always been seen as the mainstream form of music. It still controls many of the radio stations still, however, by observing the global top charts of things such as Spotify or Apple Music it seems we are transitioning through what author Reebee Garofolo calls a ‘crossing over’ period. In such a period, a new genre takes over the charts and then essentially becomes the new popular music (aka pop). And, in recent years, we have the genre of rap and hip-hop doing just that as the majority of top charts feature these artists of all types.
So, like rock ‘n roll or jazz, there is almost always some type of media outlet that eventually springboards these genres to the limelight of the mainstream audience. Some of the rap and hip-hop legends like Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg can be traced back to the days of record deals but today’s push into prominence seems to stem from the streaming outlet known as Soundcloud. Founded in 2007, the company has served breeding ground for up and coming rappers before they eventually made it big from Lil Yachty to Grammy Award winning artist Chance the Rapper. Users on the application stretch from the states to Australia and thousands of places in between. Furthermore, it’s evident that we can see this spike into the top charts more and more as Soundcloud fostered the next big names in the genre year after year.
Moreover, although on a global scale the genre is finding great success, it has failed to establish a permanent foothold in some places such as central and eastern Europe, specifically in the Czech Republic. Consequently, the Czechs have not been completely in the dark when it comes to this style of music. Native groups such as Prago Union and Gypsie.cz have found notoriety across Europe performing at many big festivals around the continent. Gypsie.cz has also been featured on MTV, yet even with this prominence the genre itself has failed to dip into the top charts even with big names like Drake or Kanye West.
When I first arrived in the Czech Republic and scrolled through the app I was greeted by an overwhelming amount of pop and dance like music. There were some rap songs when I did some digging but none of them had more than maybe a few hundred views. Additionally, when I asked my Czech roomate and his peers if they had ever even heard of the app they all shook their heads, yet were all frequent users of services like Apple Music and Spotify.
Eventually I came across the top charts for Spotify in the Czech Republic to find is was cluttered with the stereotypical ‘pop’ music that graced the earbuds of Americans everywhere before the arrival of Soundcloud. I had known that places like the Czech Republic were usually late to new music trends but with the global community of the internet, it wasn’t because of the lack of internet but that rather the way it was being used.
The idea of popular genres is always flowing, but without any rain to keep the system flowing the water of music remains stagnant.