Rap Music Is Bigger Than the Beatles

(Photos from left: Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Beats by Dre, Terry Disney/Express/Getty Images)

Rap Music Is Bigger Than the Beatles

Scientific study says the genre's cultural impact outweighs the iconic group's influence.

Published May 6, 2015

This just in: Hip hop music has proven to be more culturally significant than the British mega-group the Beatles, according to a computer analysis of 17,000 songs.


A scientific study conducted by the University of London and Imperial College found that hip hop's burst onto the music scene completely overshadowed the Beatles' domination on popular music in 1964. According to Billboard, three revolutions were highlighted on the charts: the 1991 inception of rap and hip hop on mainstream music charts; the synth-led "new wave movement" of 1983; and the introduction of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who and other British rock sensations in the early '60s.

One of the most interesting findings of the study, however, is that while the Beatles were praised and considered the "fathers of the pen" by music critics, it was hip hop pioneers like Afrika Bambaataa and Jay Z who researchers found more profound and culturally impactful.


In the study, the researchers wrote that the increasing popularity of rap and genres like it represents "the single most important event that has shaped the musical structure of the American charts in the period we studied." So, basically, hip hop is the Africa of contemporary popular music — it started it all.

While some considered the British bands to be the originators of popular music trends of the time, researchers also found that they were, in fact, jacking the styles and aesthetics of minority U.S. stars who came before them like, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

To go a little more in-depth, here is how the study was conducted. Researchers analyzed 30-second snippets of about 17,000 songs from the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts between the years of 1960 and 2010. Each song was categorized based on musical properties, instrumentation used, chord patterns and other technical components. While some may be upset by the findings — particularly some die-hard Beatles fans — lead author Matthias Mauch said that the study breaks new ground in assessing musical properties, giving everyday consumers the ability to judge for themselves rather than relying on the opinion of overpaid and oftentimes overrespected music critics.

"We can actually go beyond what music experts tell us, or what we know ourselves about them, by looking directly into the songs, measuring their make-up, and understanding how they have changed," he said.

So, there you have it. Hip hop has always been considered a revolutionary genre in the grander music landscape and here's more proof.

BET.com is your #1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

(Photos from left: Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Beats by Dre, Terry Disney/Express/Getty Images)

Written by Moriba Cummings


Latest in news

BMJ Finale

Tue April 23 8/7c

Followed By The Premiere Of Games People Play