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TIME's Most Influential People of 2019 Excludes Music's Most Influential Genre

TIME's Most Influential People of 2019 Excludes Music's Most Influential Genre

TIME Magazine’s annual list of most influential people has been on the tip of the cultural zeitgeist for 20 years, with this year’s artist inductees including Ariana Grande, BTS and Khalid. While many other publications have resisted hip-hop’s ascendance to its status as the biggest music phenomenon in the country, over the years TIME has consistently acknowledged the influence of the genre’s biggest pioneers like Jay-Z, Kanye West, OutKast and Kendrick Lamar. Last year, Cardi B made the list. However, according to TIME, such influence has come to a halt in 2019 as not one figure in the hip-hop industry graced this year’s list.

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The snubs are only amplified by the way TIME seemed to tiptoe all around hip hop and inadvertently acknowledge its influence with the other artists listed this year. BTS’s style, dance and flow all lift from hip-hop culture. Not knowing much about the culture, the group was even tutored by rap icons like Coolio and Warren G on a reality show called BTS American Hustle Life. Ariana Grande has long been the subject of debate over how much of her genre bending music crosses into exploitation. Both have been accused of the appropriation of black culture, making the absence of artists that contribute to the cultures they both benefit from that much more significant.

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Hip-hop’s influence stretches far beyond music, with artists spearheading awareness and initiatives for various issues like police brutality, prison reform, and immigration. Hip-hop artists are entrepreneurs, fashion icons and have permanently changed pop culture. So why the sudden hesitance? Since the release of the last 100 Most Influential list in April of 2018, the genre has continued to dominate pop culture. Meek Mill’s release from prison and subsequent evolution to social justice warrior, Kanye’s continuous controversy and the release of Ye, Jay-Z and Beyonce’s joint album as well as Beychella (!) are a few of the many events that shaped this year’s cultural landscape.

I guess getting hip-hop back on TIME’s radar is yet another thing to keep our fingers crossed for in 2020.


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