If there's one thing that the streaming era has laid bare, it's that hip-hop runs popular music. For the first time since Nielsen began tracking the U.S. music industry in 1991, hip-hop/R&B is the leading genre of music, pulling in a full quarter of total consumption for the first half of 2017, while hip-hop albums have topped the Billboard 200 for 22 weeks this year so far, led by the biggest debut of the year, Kendrick Lamar's DAMN.
Billboard's inaugural Hip-Hop Power Players list recognizes those who are driving and guiding hip-hop's surge right now. To compile the list, a committee of Billboard editors and reporters weighed a variety of factors, including but not limited to impact on consumer behavior (as measured by metrics such as album and track sales, streaming volume, social media and radio and TV); company growth; career trajectory; reputation among peers; and overall impact in the hip-hop industry during the past 12 months. Where required, record-label market share was consulted using Nielsen Music R&B/hip-hop market share. Unless otherwise noted, Billboard Boxscore and Nielsen Music are the sources for tour grosses and sales/streaming data, respectively.