By championing genre-blurring artists this year, the format encouraged a rap-rock wave.
When Barry Weiss signed 24kGoldn to his RECORDS label in late 2018, he thought he had found a rap star in the making. That changed when Weiss heard the 20-year-old’s “City of Angels,” a single off the artist’s 2019 debut EP, Dropped Outta College. Weiss recalls the reaction he shared with his colleagues at Columbia Records, senior vp pop promotion Brady Bedard and senior vp rock formats and public radio promotion Lisa Sonkin: “We were like, ‘This is a f--king alternative record.’ ”
Indeed, the guitar-laden track became a top 10 hit on Billboard’s Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart in June, as part of an ongoing trend of alternative radio powering crossover rap-rock hits. Sonkin believes it’s a direct response to the influence of younger listeners, noting that the desire for genre-blurring music is apparent in “everything from streaming data to radio research. Most programmers realize it’s in their best interest to be open-minded as the demographics of their listenership shift. Alternative was always meant to be cutting edge.”