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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 15:34 GMT
US music fans prefer rap to country
Eminem at the 2000 MTV Music Awards
Eminem has increased rap and hip hop's popularity
Hip-hop and rap music have become more popular than country in America for the first time.

Rock music is still the nation's favourite style - but hip-hop has become America's second favourite thanks to stars like Eminem and Dr Dre.

Country has been pushed down to third for the first time in 10 years, according to sales figures.

America's favourite types of music
Rock - 25%
Rap/hip hop - 12.9%
Country - 10.7%
R'n'B/urban - 9.7%
Pop - 8%
The American music market is worth $14.3bn (9.8bn) a year - with 25% of that spent on rock music by artists like Limp Bizkit and U2.

Hip-hop and rap sales now account for 13% of takings, up from 11% a year ago.

These musical styles evolved on the streets of American cities in the 1980s and are characterised by a rhythmic, rhyming delivery of spoken lyrics against a strong bass beat.

It moved into the mainstream in the late 1980s and 1990s when acts like Run DMC, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys won commercial success.

Now artists including Eminem, Puff Daddy and Dr Dre, along with newer acts like Nelly, Outkast and Xzibit, have become some of the biggest stars on the music scene.

Eminem's latest album, The Marshall Mathers LP, has sold more than eight million copies in the United States and he has converted a new audience of white, disaffected young music fans to hip-hop.

Country star Faith Hill at this year's American Music Awards
Faith Hill: Attracting younger fans to country
But the genre is far from universally welcome - it often involves strong language and Eminem's recent world tour courted criticism due to his wild on-stage antics and homophobic and misogynistic lyrics.

Country music is, by contrast, traditionally a more rural, romantic style hailing from the southern states. It now accounts for 10% of the market.

Female country singer Faith Hill won three awards at this year's American Music Awards, and country's most enduring star, Garth Brooks, currently has three albums in the top 25 biggest-selling albums of all time in the US.

The figures were compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America, the overarching industry body in the States.

"It comes as no surprise to see the gain rap and hip-hop has made when you consider that all of our major record labels produced many successful multi-platinum albums of the genre throughout the year," its president Hilary Rosen said.

See also:

06 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Teacher resigns over Eminem school ban
02 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Brits winners' sales soar
26 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Napster blamed for CD singles slump
23 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Eminem 'robbed' of Grammy
09 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Faith Hill trounces Britney and Eminem
20 Nov 00 | Africa
Hip hop 'comes home'
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