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Move over classic rock, make room for classic rap

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 16, 2014

After playing four straight days of Beyonce tunes, a Houston news radio station settled on its new format: classic hip hop. It’s the first major market radio station to do so.

In many ways, this is an idea whose time has come, which is another way of saying that hip-hop, and its first-wave fans, are, well, old. Dre will be 50 in February; Ice-T is just 10 years away from his first Social Security check. Licensed to Ill topped the Billboard charts in 1987; three years later, hip-hop made up one-third of the Hot 100. By 1999, it was the country’s best-selling genre, with more than 81 million albums sold. The fans who propelled the early boom probably don’t know Young Thug from Rich Homie Quan, and don’t want to.

The obvious parallel is to classic rock radio — a format that emerged in the early-1980s as baby boomers rejected punk and disco, and radio execs realized it was easier to serve up old songs than convince their aging audiences to try new music. It eventually morphed into a touchstone of middle-age: Every so often, a cultural observer wakes up, checks his bald spot and wonders how Green Day or Smashing Pumpkins or some other band of his own youth got lumped in with Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith on the radio dial.

Not this cultural observer! I’ve never done anything of that sort ever.

Annnnyway, here’s a Spotify playlist (Rdio) of the sort of thing Boom 92 will be playing. (via @tcarmody)