Hip-Hop In 2017: Rap Dominating The Charts, Growing On The Road

Hip-hop had a huge year, with tours by true rappers like Kendrick LamarJay-ZJ. ColeFuture, and Chance The Rapper all charting on Pollstar’s 2017 Year End Top Tours features

Kendrick Lamar
Amy Harris / Invision / AP
– Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar performs for the 50th Festival D’été De Québec at Plains Of Abraham in Québec City July 7.

Hip-hop was big on the recorded side too, with songs like “Despacito,”(Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee) “Humble” (Kendrick Lamar) and “Rockstar” (Post Malone ft. 21 Savage) topping the singles charts, and rap/hip-hop being named tops for total song consumption at 20.9 percent according to BuzzAngle Music.

Kendrick Lamar had the top-grossing hip-hop tour of 2017, with $41.1 million grossed putting him at No. 25 on Pollstar’s Top 200 North American Tours.

He could end up with another great year as he’s nominated for seven Grammy Awards following the 2017 release of his acclaimed DAMN.

Right behind Kendrick was Jay-Z at No. 26 and with an estimated gross of $39.3 million, with big showings including multiple nights at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and many others. This comes after premature tabloid reports of soft ticket sales, empty seats and cheap StubHub listings. However, there were two cancellations on his “4:44 Tour: citing productions issues.

J. Cole solidified himself as a bonafide arena headliner, with $25.4 million grossed according to Pollstar data, putting him at No. 53 for the year in North America, and $35.6 million grossed worldwide as he also hit Europe and Australia in 2017.

J. Cole
Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP
– J. Cole
ACL Moody Theater during the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

Drake already conquered 2016 and placed No. 8 on Pollstar’s 2016 Year End Top 200 North American Tours and No. 11 Worldwide, but was no slouch this year as he toured heavily in Europe, putting him at No. 34 Worldwide this year with more than $50 million grossed.

He also stayed near the top of Pollstar’s Elite 100 Artists consumption chart all year regardless of whether he had new music out, and was the overall most-streamed artist of 2017 for a second consecutive year according to BuzzAngle Music.

Future continues to headline major festivals and arenas and had support from upcoming artists like Tory LanezMigos and Kodak Black. He’s No. 61 on the Top 200 North American Tours, with $23 million grossed.

Chance The Rapper, after winning big at this year’s Grammy Awards, had a big tour as well, grossing $20 million and landing at No. 69 on the Top 200 North American Tours. Agent Cara Lewis told Pollstar he’ll be playing some major international dates including Lollapalooza in Chile, Brazil and Argentina. 

As demand for urban and hip hop artists continues to grow, so do the live opportunities for them, with events like Rolling Loud expanding to multiple markets (and, next year, continents) as well as other hip-hop-centric events like Mala Luna Festival in San Antonio, the multi-market Spotify RapCaviar and more mainstream festivals like Meadows Music and Arts Festival in New York City featuring rap artists as headliners and prominently at the top of the bill.

Festivals have given many artists a platform and large audience they might not have enjoyed previous, and helps build fan bases for traditional hard ticket tours. 

Travis Scott
Joel Ryan / Invision / AP
– Travis Scott
Travis Scott is high-flying during the MTV European Music Awards at The SSE in Wembley, London, Nov. 12.

Some prominent hardd-ticket rap tours this year included Travis ScottVince Staples (who also seemingly played every major festival imaginable), Lil Uzi Vert, and Post Malone, who with the No. 1 for eight weeks “Rockstar” featuring 21 Savage saw himself in just two years go from opening for Fetty Wap at large clubs to selling out venues in the 7,000-capacity range.

Macklemore also killed it on the road, with sellouts across the country including House of Blues Boston, Stage AE in Pittsburgh and many more reported to Pollstar.

For 2018 he’s heading out on an arena tour with Kesha, who he has a new single with.

For 2018 Eminem will surely be a factor, with agent Cara lewis revealing to Polltsar that he’ll be doing his first American dates since 2014, including both Coachella and Governors Ball festivals, which he was just announced for as headliner. Lewis also mentioned that Travis Scott would be playing arenas in the New Year, after major festivals this year as well as support on Kendrick Lamar’s big tour. He’s also on the Governors Ball lineup. 

Michigan-based NF, who seemingly came out of nowhere with a No. 1 album release called “Perception,” is poised for big things after selling out major clubs over the last few years.

Vince Staples and Tyler, The Creator are heading out to major clubs and some arenas in the first quarter asl well after Tyler’s Flower Boy recently dropped to rave reviews.

Ty Dolla $ign, after huge streaming activity in 2017, is heading out for major clubs in 2018 including Fillmore Silver Spring, House of Blues Chicago and First Avenue in Minneapolis.

Ty Dolla $ign
Rich Fury / Invision / AP
– Ty Dolla $ign
Ty Dolla $ign – “BET Experience,” Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

Rap veteran Tech N9ne is also always good for 100 shows or so too, and never misses a gig, ever, as chronicled in a Pollstar feature story where he discussed performing despite being diagnosed with Swine flu, broken bones and other ailments.