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" presently has 445 million performs), and even to scale the Billboard Hot 100, the place "Dreams" presently 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 as a result of music discovering itself someplace few different rappers with profession arcs like his have: mainstream radio. After hitting the highest 10 of Billboard'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 hanging 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 notice. 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 not often making a huge effect. 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 music's profile because it additionally stays a fixture on Billboard's Streaming Songs chart (the place it returns to the apex this week for a second body). The music's success might characterize 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 music to make the leap, although? Well, it helps that the music is essentially rooted in a extra crossover-familiar model of pop/rock, significantly 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 music failed to succeed in the Billboard Hot 100 -- however the pattern nonetheless provides the music cross-genre attraction, whereas additionally establishing it in an impressively wealthy legacy of different well-liked 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 music is, primarily, PG-rated. There's no censor-baiting language within the music, and although it at the very least alludes to heavy topics like melancholy and suicide, it doesn't speak about 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 have been my all the pieces/ Thoughts of a marriage ring/ Now I'm simply higher off lifeless"). It's additionally most likely 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 ladies have the prettiest face?") into one thing extra problematic. 

Perhaps most significantly, "Lucid Dreams" is only a extremely efficient pop music -- 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 straight away, and repeats immediately -- then holds off on repeating once more till close to the music's finish, holding you ready for it by means of verses which might be simply as melodic and almost 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 a bit of bit cleaner, a bit of bit brighter, rather less harmful -- usually, a bit of 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 useful to all concerned. 

"We assume they're each actually symbiotic and work collectively," Tom Poleman, chief programming officer for iHeartMedia tells Billboard 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 whenever you add on the large viewers of radio, then it feeds it again to streaming. And it simply continues to get larger and greater."