To have the headlines tell it, rock’s day in the commercial sun is over. Hip-hop and R&B are the most consumed music genres in the U.S. Hip-hop also captured 71% of the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10s in Q3 this year. There are many more statistical examples tracking rap’s rise over traditional rock. This week, the Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, whose career was launched by the softer sides of rock radio, piled onto the genre further.
“Something unique to this band is that we have always looked to hip-hop, R&B, all rhythmic forms of music, from back when we were writing our first album to now. Rock music is nowhere, really,” Levine told Variety. “I don’t know where it is. If it’s around, no one’s invited me to the party. All of the innovation and the incredible things happening in music are in hip-hop. It’s better than everything else. Hip-hop is weird and avant-garde and flawed and real, and that’s why people love it.”
It makes sense that Levine would know where the music industry is heading. “Girls Like You,” which featured the rap breakout of the year in Cardi B, spent seven weeks at the number one spot on the Hot 100. Levine admits in the interview, he “begged” the Invasion of Privacy rapper to appear on the song and described her role as “vital” to its success.
This week alone fifty percent of the Hot 100 — “Sicko Mode,” “Mo Bamba,” “Lucid Dreams,” “Drip Too Hard,” “ZEZE” — is composed of hip-hop songs. None of them sound alike. Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” featuring Drake and Swae Lee, features three beat switches, three samples, and cuts off the biggest artist’s feature at its apex. “Lucid Dreams” samples a Sting’s 1993 “Shape of My Heart,” while “Drip Too Hard” is a sluggish western inspired trip into the minds of two Atlanta rappers most couldn’t notice if they were sitting next to you.
So, Levine’s take is hot, but it isn’t scorching. Earlier in the discussion, he also laid bare the current state of rock music, and had harsh words for the RIAA.
“Apparently being in a band is against the law at this point. Bands that are currently in the pop landscape — or have survived the pop landscape — who are they? Imagine Dragons, One Republic, Coldplay and Maroon 5. There’s your category for best group. The Grammys had to change the f—ing category because there weren’t any bands. Now any [featured artist] can make it. Goddamn it, we cornered the market — then you f—ed us, Grammys!”