In the past five years, rap music has doubled in popularity in Poland, according to listening data from Spotify. Today, rap music accounts for 23% of all music listened to in Poland on Spotify, and it attracts new listeners of all ages and a multitude of local creators. So, to highlight the growing and sonically diverse rap scene unfolding across the country, Spotify Poland launched a campaign that asked a deceptively simple question: what is rap?
Depending on who you ask, the answer changes, but all experts agree that it is on an unstoppable growth path. “Polish rap is so diverse, colorful, hard to define, and that’s what makes it so beautiful! ” noted Mateusz Smółka, Head of Music Eastern Europe, Spotify. “At Spotify, we work with artists to find the answer to the question ‘What is rap?’ hear different voices and show how vast this genre is. But most of all, we celebrate all kinds of rap, and we cover all kinds of examples on Spotify!
Young Leosia, one of Poland’s best-known Gen Z DJs and rap artists, takes the conversation even further, sharing her point of view as a creator. “Rap has become the most popular music in the world, so it’s not something we made up, but in general I think rap is all about the truth, ”the rapper shared. “These are real experiences that people can relate to.
She is not alone in thinking. We also asked thirteen of the most listened to Polish rappers to add their voices to the campaign and share their take on rap. They did not disappoint.
But to understand What rap is in Poland, we also had to explore why and how the country’s strong rap scene came into being.
Explore the rise of the genre on the platform
When Spotify music publishers created the Generacja Hip Hop playlist (now the RAP GENERACJA) by the end of 2017, rap was on the rise, but it was not yet the source of most Polish mainstream hits as it is today. It featured more trap music influences and didn’t include as much experimentation, dance, R&B or rock-inspired beats.
Experts attribute the evolution of the genre to the tendency of artists to collaborate. Specifically, many rappers have started forming supergroups and super collaborations. Our music publishers consider 2018 to be the turning point of the genre, when two of the greatest rappers of the time, Taco Hemingway and Quebonafide, recorded a record album under the name of TACONAFIDE. From there, rap and its awesome collaborations were ready for the limelight.
As part of our recent campaign, Spotify rebranded the playlist where it all began, Generacja Hip Hop, in RAP GENERACJA. With a fresh new name and dynamic overhaul, the playlist remains the go-to choice for fans and artists alike to experience the hottest and most important releases in Polish rap. Over the past three years, RAP GENERACJA has climbed to the top spot in Spotify’s Polish playlist, becoming the country’s most-listened playlist and seeing audience growth of 240%. Recently, the playlist has made waves around the world and has become one of the Top 10 Rap Playlists in Spotify’s Global Playlist Ranking.
And, to highlight the sound diversity of the genre, Spotify launched seven new playlists, including a new playlist for young artists called Młody rap, and playlists celebrating the history of Polish rap, legendary tracks and artists. These playlists include Polski Rap 2000., Polski Rap 2010., and Rap history.
The explosion of new playlists reflects the versatility and energy of the genre. “Polish rap is the most popular and influential genre of the moment in Poland, taking over the charts and inspiring the general public, but also flirting with pop, electronics / dance, alternative, rock and many other genres, ”said Mateusz.
Artists have been making waves and speaking for generations
Whether the creators partnered with supergroups or pursued solo careers, all have been at the forefront of evolving Polish rap culture. And, as they connect with a growing audience, artists are rushing to set (and beat) streaming records.
Trendy artists are also talking about the variety of sounds and styles within the genre that have become popular over the past five years, as well as the potential for emerging designers to take off. Just look at the top 10 rappers over the past five years, most of whom launched their careers in the same time frame:
- Taco Hemingway
- White 2115
- Young Igi
And by taking a more in-depth look at current trends and records, the artists Tymek and Large Scythe leading the charge with the most listened to song of the past five years, their hit “Język ciła. “But pinching their heels is the latest record song on the platform, Mat‘s “Kiss cam (podryw roku). “The rise of Mata and fan-favorite creators like Young Leosia reflect the changes sweeping the music scene and how a new generation of Polish rappers resonate with their audiences.