There’s something about the third quarter of the year that just seems to feel totally different from any other time of the year. Maybe it’s due to the fact that nearly the entire summer falls in the third quarter. Whatever it is, I’m sure that you would also attest—Q3 is a whole vibe of its own.
That vibe definitely carries over to hip-hop culture. Not only does the energy hit differently in the culture during the months of summer; as a result, the music, fashion, and trends do as well.
And with hip-hop being the preeminent culture which sets the trends for just about every industry that one could think of, changes in what’s trending within hip-hop culture equates to changes in the market.
It is for that reason, at Decryption, we present to you our quarterly series, Trending In Culture, which highlights all things hot in hip-hop culture at the moment.
Who’s hot in music
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the artform that started The Bronx, NY, but would go on to influence people on every continent on the planet. That’s right, this year hip-hop turned the big 5-0. And while hip-hop as a culture is as impactful as it has ever been, the artform is in an anomalous space at the moment.
That’s because according to Billboard, hip-hop has yet to sit atop of either the Billboard top 100 or the Billboard top 200 albums chart so far this year. Which is the longest the genre has gone in a calendar year without securing the number 1 spot on the charts since 1993.
And while those stats are almost certain to change before the year ends, many critics of the culture have used the deviation as a narrative (albeit a false one) to signal the genre’s decline. But that narrative couldn’t be further from the truth.
As both a culture as well as an artform, hip-hop is still thriving. Especially thanks to these artists that are the hottest in the game at the moment:
Nicki Minaj — Throughout hip-hop’s illustrious 50 year history, no female artist has dominated the genre from a music standpoint, longer than Nicki Minaj has. For over the last 13 years, Nicki has sat on the throne only reserved for one person—the queen of hip-hop.
Although Nicki hasn’t released an album this year to date (she recently announced that her highly-anticipated fifth album, Pink Friday 2, will be released 11-17-23), she’s remained in both the public’s eye and ears by dropping her single, Red Ruby Da Sleeze, as well as crushing every song that she’s been featured on this year.
Notable collaborations with artists: Ice Spice, Sexxy Red. and most recently, Lil Uzi Vert, has Nicki Minaj just as hot today as she was when her debut album dropped in 2010.
Ice Spice — It’s official, what was once known around the world as a heavily male-dominated genre of music is now dominated, albeit on a mainstream level—by female MCs. Among the many female MCs ushering in this new wave of hip-hop, none are more influential at the moment than New York’s own Ice Spice.
Hailing from the borough that birthed hip-hop, The Boogie Down Bronx; Isis Naija Gaston, better known to the world as Ice Spice, is having a 2023 for the history books.
Not only did the year see the release of her debut EP, Like.. ? The success of the EP’s singles helped Ice Spice land brand endorsement deals with Skims and Ivy Park. And as her most recent song collaboration with Nicki Minaj (Barbie World) is currently climbing the charts, it’s safe to say that Ice Spice’s reign of relevance in the culture will remain supreme for the foreseeable future.
Lil Durk — Most rappers could only dream of having a run like Chicago’s own, Lil Durk has had over the last 8 years. Only months removed from the release of his eighth studio album, Almost Healed, Durk’s hold on the streets and his influence within the culture only seems to be getting stronger each year.
Latto — In his song, Imaginary Players, JAY-Z said, “It’s funny how one verse could ***k up the game.” So, if one verse could… let’s say disrupt the game. Just imagine what one song could do. Well, one artist that doesn’t have to imagine that scenario is Latto.
Her song, Put It On Da Floor, has been burning both the streets and the clubs since its release this past April. Also, the song’s remix, Put It On Da Floor Again, featuring Cardi B, has also taken on a life of its own as it currently has over 25 million views on YouTube. Both versions of the song have been such huge hits, they helped Latto attain a trophy that every female rapper covets, which is only given to BET’s Best Female Hip-Hop Artist award winners.
Young Thug — By nature, most consumers tend to appreciate products more when they aren’t as easily accessible as they were before. That certainly is the case when it comes to Young Thug. And although the native of Atlanta is currently incarcerated, he hasn’t allowed that to deter him from releasing new music. Nor has it stopped his fans from supporting him.
Thugga’s latest project, Business Is Business, debuted at no. 2 on Billboard’s 200. Selling an equivalent of 88,000 copies its first week.
Gunna — Regardless of how some fans within the culture may feel about Gunna personally at the moment, one thing that even his biggest critics would admit is that he makes hot music. The College Park, Georgia native’s fourth studio album, A Gift and a Curse, is already being crowned album of the summer by many hip-hop fans and publications.
SZA — Even as the buzz for her latest project, last year’s SOS, has seemed to plateau; the album was so successful that even SZA’s simmer is still hotter than most other hot artists' peak.
Drake — Let’s face facts, Drake owns the summer when it comes to hip-hop and has done so for quite some time now. And with a rumored album titled, For All The Dogs, set to drop any day now—summer 2023 is looking to be another summer owned by Drizzy.
What’s hot in non-traditional media
We all have one. And whether it’s when we’re driving in our cars. Working out at the gym. Or even while we’re working, we make sure to check them out on a daily basis (sometimes, even for hours at a time). Yes, at this point… we all have a favorite podcast that we tune in to.
Podcasts are so popular in hip-hop culture, podcast hosts are now just as if not more—popular as the artists and guests that they interview.
These are the hottest non-traditional media platforms in the culture at the moment:
It Is What It Is
Joe Budden Podcast
Million Dollaz Worth Of Game
Off The Record With DJ Akademiks
The Art Of Dialogue
What’s hot in fashion
If fashion trends lasted longer than ninety days—they wouldn’t be trends (and fashion brands would sell a lot less merchandise). Fortunately for fashionista’s and hypebeasts, fashion trends are typically only seasonal. That means styles and brands that were en vogue during spring, could easily become afterthoughts by the start of summer.
Now that summer is here, these are the hottest fashion labels in the culture at the moment:
Dolce & Gabbana
What’s hot in traditional media
Due to the fact that most networks begin airing new episodes of their television shows in the fall and winter months; as well as the absence of Starz and 50 Cent’s ‘Power-Verse’ on the airwaves, viewers within the culture are currently experiencing a dry spell when it comes to great content that's on-air at the moment.
But all is not lost. There’s still a handful of television shows airing right now that have the attention of the culture. These are those shows:
Black Ink Crew
Black Ink Crew: Los Angeles
The Breakfast Club
Hottest social media platforms
History shows that when brands build social media platforms that are embraced by the culture, the culture typically supports those platforms until something pretty drastic happens.
Unfortunately, for the social media company Twitter, something pretty drastic happened recently when the company’s owner, Elon Musk, announced that Twitter users with unverified accounts would be limited to view only 600 tweets per day. And while Musk did tweet that this change was temporary, the announcement angered millions of users around the world.
Although the culture still has an affinity for Twitter as a platform, the announcement of the view limit did open the door for a new platform that is similar to Twitter to enter our list of the hottest social media platforms in the culture:
Recently, a rumor of an acquisition hit social media and became a topic of discussion for tens of thousands of people around the United States. The rumor, which was also reported by many social media influencers—was that Hollywood mogul Tyler Perry had purchased the cable channel BET (Black Entertainment Television) from Paramount Global.
News of the acquisition was met with mixed reviews by those in the hip-hop community. Depending on just who you asked, the acquisition would either be the best thing that could have possibly happened to the struggling network. Or, it was the final slap in the face to viewers who vowed they’d never watch the channel again because of the sale.
At the moment, Perry’s rumored acquisition of BET seems to be false. Or at best, a bit premature. But if you were ever a fan of the network in its heyday, you must admit that BET is no longer the culture-shifting network that it once was in the days of Rap City and 106 & Park.
Notwithstanding the excitement following this year’s BET Awards ceremony, the annual broadcast is now pretty much the only event the network has that the culture could look forward to. Gone are the days when viewers rushed home to catch their favorite artists appear on one of the many original BET shows dedicated to the culture.
These days, much like MTV (another Paramount owned network), most of BET’s programming consists of the re-airing of older movies or Tyler Perry produced shows.
As with most things in life, fans of the old BET have come to accept that things change. Sometimes that change is for the better. But often, it’s for the worse. However you may feel about BET today, most would acknowledge that the network is no longer the distinguished platform it once was which led to the brand being revered by hip-hop fans around the world.
Sadly, due to that reason, it is with deep regret that we all must admit that BET has faded.