Does Juice WRLD's 'Lucid Dreams' Success Show a Growing Common Ground Between Hip-Hop Streaming and Pop Radio?

Does Juice WRLD's 'Lucid Dreams' Success Show a Growing Common Ground Between Hip-Hop Streaming and Pop Radio?


Like many different younger rappers experiencing great success in 2018, Juice WRLD discovered early acceptance posting his songs to SoundCloud. Since first debuting on the service in 2015, he's gained sufficient followers and followers to cross over to the bigger streaming world (together with Spotify, the place his "Lucid Dreams" at the moment has 445 million performs), and even to scale the Streets Talkin Hot 100, the place "Dreams" at the moment sits at a brand new peak of No. 2 (on the chart dated Oct. 6). 

But the runner-up placement for Juice WRLD's breakthrough hit is available in half because of the track discovering itself someplace few different rappers with profession arcs like his have: mainstream radio. After hitting the highest 10 of Streets Talkin's Radio Songs chart for the primary time final week, "Lucid Dreams" strikes as much as No. 9 this week, above the newest hits by confirmed radio favorites Ariana Grande ("God Is a Woman") and Imagine Dragons ("Natural"). Even extra putting is which radio format is powering its run up the chart — whereas "Lucid Dreams" sits at No. 13 on this week's R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart, it strikes into the highest ten this week on Pop Songs, the next peak than it's but achieved on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay.

This is extra uncommon than you may understand. While SoundCloud-reared MCs have scored their fair proportion of main hits on the Hot 100 — XXXTentacion's "Sad!," 6ix9ine's "FEFE," Lil Uzi Vert's "XO Tour Llif3" and Lil Pump's "Gucci Gang," simply to call a handful which have reached the chart's prime ten — their success has been closely pushed by streaming, with gross sales and radio hardly ever making a big impact. Of the 4 artists simply talked about, the Radio Songs chart has been grazed solely by Uzi ("XO Tour Llif3," No. 30 peak) and Pump ("Gucci Gang," No. 49) as lead artists, and solely Uzi has appeared on Pop Songs, as a visitor on Migos' "Bad and Boujee" (No. 31). Hitting the highest 10 of each charts is pretty unprecedented for such a rapper. 

Yet it's radio that's serving to propel "Lucid Dreams" to new heights in its 20th week on the Hot 100, persevering with to develop the track's profile because it additionally stays a fixture on Streets Talkin's Streaming Songs chart (the place it returns to the apex this week for a second body). The track's success could symbolize a uncommon midpoint within the Venn diagram between prime 40 radio and SoundCloud rap, and maybe a suggestion of how the 2 worlds can compromise to raised work in tandem. 

Why was "Lucid Dreams" the track to make the leap, although? Well, it helps that the track is basically rooted in a extra crossover-familiar model of pop/rock, notably its core pattern of Sting's 1993 single "Shape of My Heart." Not that Sting is something like a core artist for prime 40 radio in 2018 — even in '93, the track failed to achieve the Streets Talkin Hot 100 — however the pattern nonetheless provides the track cross-genre enchantment, whereas additionally establishing it in an impressively wealthy legacy of different standard songs which have deployed the melancholy guitar hook, together with singles by Nas ("The Message") Carl Thomas ("Emotional") and Craig David ("Rise and Fall").

And it additionally helps an amazing deal that the track is, primarily, PG-rated. There's no censor-baiting language within the track, and although it no less than alludes to heavy topics like melancholy and suicide, it doesn't discuss them as explicitly or disturbingly as songs like "Sad!" or "XO Tour Llif3," as an alternative coming from pop and rock's long-established custom of mopey teen heartbreak ("You had been my every thing/ Thoughts of a marriage ring/ Now I'm simply higher off lifeless"). It's additionally in all probability value noting that whereas rap friends like 6ix9ine and XXXTentacion have been accused of real-life incidents of violence and misconduct that make their often-aggressive lyrics unpalatable for a lot of, there's no such controversies surrounding Juice WRLD to compound the sunshine misogyny of "Lucid Dreams" ("Who knew evil women have the prettiest face?") into one thing extra problematic. 

Perhaps most significantly, "Lucid Dreams" is only a extremely efficient pop track — one which makes explicit sense for 2018, however at its core may work in any period. It hits you with its large, relentless, insidious refrain instantly, and repeats immediately — then holds off on repeating once more till close to the track's finish, retaining you ready for it by means of verses which might be simply as melodic and practically as catchy. The beat is booming however lush, the manufacturing accessible however dreamlike, and the lyrics unquestionably unhappy, however by no means fairly upsetting. It's a part of the identical universe of drug-addled anthems of angst and heartbreak that helped make Lil Uzi Vert and XXXTentacion defining artists for this technology, however somewhat bit cleaner, somewhat bit brighter, rather less harmful — usually, somewhat extra radio-friendly. 

Does the radio success of "Lucid Dreams" portend a complete prime 40 invasion from the SoundCloud set, or will it go down as a crossover fluke? Time will inform, however from the general success "Dreams' is experiencing, it's clear that discovering that candy spot between the listener bases for pop radio and hip-hop streaming is very helpful to all concerned. 

"We assume they're each actually symbiotic and work collectively," Tom Poleman, chief programming officer for iHeartMedia tells Streets Talkin of the connection between the radio and streaming spheres. "Juice WRLD, for instance — there was an amazing early indicator that we [at radio] wanted to concentrate to what was taking place within the streaming world [with that song]. And then once you add on the huge viewers of radio, then it feeds it again to streaming. And it simply continues to get greater and greater."