YouTube US Hip-Hop Content Opportunity Analysis™ 2019-2022

July 8, 2022

Content Opportunity Methodology

  1. Measure & Categorize. Sample a large number of social posts to find ones that are significantly outperforming the average.
  2. Identify Top Themes. Identify the themes that are resonating most with the audience by sorting the themes by their aggregated performance metrics.
  3. Identify a Benchmark. Identify content themes that are performing above and under an average benchmark for the industry based on views & engagements.
  4. Identify Opportunities. Look at the data and find the content themes that are resonating with the audience based on a set of top creators.
  5. Repeat For Each Platform. Repeat the analysis for every platform that matters to your brand and audience to find platform-specific opportunities.

YouTube Content Bucket Definitions

  • Rap Battles: This viral format is based on the show Wild ‘N Out which features a variety of rap battles between recurring show hosts and surprise hip-hop guests.
  • Freshman Cypher: A viral format that introduces up and coming talent in a freestyle or performance with two or more rappers.
  • Open Mic Session: Open Mic Sessions are a video format that creates a space for artists to perform either with a live band or in a studio set-up.
  • Revealing Meaning: A video format that explores artists breaking down the meaning behind their lyrics and the stories that built them up.
  • Song Association: A game format that challenges artists to think of songs that use words they are given on the spot. 
  • 10 Things: A series by GQ that invites artists to share 10 things they can’t live without.
  • Arts & Raps: A series by All Defs that invites artists to spend time with children making arts and crafts while getting to know each other.
  • ABCs: A series by XXL that invites artists to share their ABCs, a necessity for every letter of the alphabet.
  • Hip-Hop & Fashion: A group of different series that explore the connection between hip-hop and fashion as both industries are heavily influenced by one another. This includes series such as Complex Closets, Sneaker Shopping, Fine Points and On The Rocks.
  • Acoustic Rap: A series of artists performing their songs with Einer Bankz, a ukulele artist who walks alongside rappers as they perform outside.
  • Single Format Freestyle: Single format freestyles are mainly comprised of radio freestyles from the segments Funk Flex, Freestyle Over, Off Top, and 5 Fingers of Death.   
  • Interviews: This format features a variety of unique ways that rappers engage with interviewers to share more about themselves with the audience. Interview series include Mom, Stop!, The Breakfast Club, 360 With Speedy Morman, Hiking with Rappers, The Couples Quiz, No Jumper, The Therapist, and Sneakin in with Druski.
  • Replying to Comments: A series where artists are invited to read and respond to comments made about them from specific performances or in general online.
  • Over/Under: A format where artists are asked to decide if a topic is over or underrated on the spot and why.
  • Omegle Bars: Hip-hop content creators participating in a challenge to rap to strangers on Omegle, a random video chat software.
  • The Bar Exam: A challenge format where rappers are invited on to test their bar knowledge for other rappers lyrics.
  • How it Was Made: A series that explores how different songs were made and produced.

Content buckets that had the highest average views & engagement in the USA hip-hop space include:

Good performing content opportunities for the USA hip-hop audience on YouTube include:

Substandard performing content opportunities for the USA hip-hop audience on YouTube include:

Low performing content opportunities for the USA hip-hop audience on YouTube include:

Viral Callout:

1. Rap Battles

Rap Battles are a viral segment with an average of 19M views and engagements due to Wild ‘N Out’s success. This video has led to higher averages in the segment with 50M views. 

Tactics to Implement:

  • Long Form Content: Videos that perform the best tend to be full episodes (60+ mins.) and feature many different elements of the show where artists show off their creative abilities. 


2. Freshman Cyphers

Freshman Cyphers are a viral segment with an average of 17M views and engagements. Due to its consistent nature, XXL’s Cyphers have become a recurring video that millions look forward to viewing. This video has led to higher averages in the segment with 36M views.

Content Opportunity:

  • Set the Mark: XXL is able to understand who the top up-and-coming artists are and accurately predict who will continue to wow the hip-hop community. Viewers rewatch cyphers to reminisce on the start of their favourite rappers’ careers.

The following viral videos were omitted from the data set to avoid any skewing.


Content Opportunities:

1. Open Mic Session

Open Mic Sessions are a video format that creates a space for artists to perform either with a live band or in a studio set-up.

Tactics to Implement:

  • Content Format: Genius’ Open Mic Sessions generated 60% of the average views and engagement in this segment over NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. 
  • Video Length: Genius’ Open Mic Sessions are less than 5 minutes compared to Tiny Desk Concerts which average at over 15 minutes per video. 

Content Opportunities:

  • Audiences are craving content that gives them short, raw access to quick clips of their favourite artists performing. 
  • Build a consistent set for artists to film a series of 2-3 minute freestyles or performances that can be released in playlists for their fans to listen to in a new way.



2. Revealing Meaning

Revealing Meaning is a video format that explores artists breaking down the meaning behind their lyrics and the stories that built them up.

Tactics to Implement:

  • Building Intimacy: Genius’ series has gained popularity because of the element of vulnerability and sometimes awkwardness that asking a rapper to explain their lyrics produces. 
  • Length: Some of Genius’ videos feature only the artist slowing down the original song and saying the lyrics at a more manageable pace, which, on average, are less than 5 minutes in length. The Verified series that breaks down the lyrics are generally 5-10 minutes in length.

Content Opportunities:

  • In a society where lyrics are often overlooked in the grand scheme of the masses enjoying a hip-hop song, bringing the artists down to earth with the listener is a unique way to build content. 
  • Introductions are made within the first 30 seconds of the video and can be accompanied by an interesting part of the video before starting from the beginning.



3. Song Association

Song Association is a format that explores an artists’ ability to think off the top of their head and find songs that use random words they’re given on the spot. 

Tactics to Implement:

  • Inspiration: Without overtly saying it, this series reveals what kind of music artists are listening to. Because the artist needs to pull songs from their heads based on the words given, it provides unique insight into what they may have been listening to lately or referring to for inspiration.
  • Introduction: The first 25 seconds of these videos are used for introductions. A clip of the artist getting excited in the middle of the video is followed by the artist introducing themselves and an explanation of the game and the rules. 

Content Opportunities: Build a format that challenges artists to think on their toes and provide insight into their lives without overtly asking them about it. This could take shape in the form of a game where one artist wears headphones and must react based on what they’re hearing while hosts rate how much they think the artist likes the song.



4. 10 Things

10 Things is a series hosted by GQ that invites rappers to share 10 things they don’t think they could live without.

Tactics to Implement:

  • The More Finite the Better: Providing a finite amount of options for an artist to contribute really isolates what is important to them for the viewer and sets this apart from a traditional interview. 
  • Visuals: These videos can range up to 10 minutes in length, to keep the viewers entertained, visual effects are added to the screen to enhance the viewing experience and a series of angles are used to switch between perspectives. 

Content Opportunities: With the rise of documentaries that explore not only the lives of rappers but their creative processes (like Travis Scott’s Look Mom I Can Fly and Kanye’s jeen-yuhs) there is a lack of content in this space that explores what artists need to make the songs we love so much today. Think 5 essentials in the studio, where an artist can really dig into the elements like their producer, their equipment and even the snacks they eat while making music.



Added by: 

Recent Case Studies

Scroll horizontally to view more case studies →