Rap it up: Hip-hop, not country or rock, now rules NYS Fair concerts


The 2022 New York State Fair is over, and now is the time to give rap its flowers.

Hip-hop officially became the most popular genre at NYS Fair concerts, overcoming the traditional assumption that country and rock music were the biggest draw. nelly set a new record for the largest crowd in Fair Concert history with 43,000 fans at Chevy Park last week, while city ​​girls pulled 39,000 for a short show on Sunday and CCM (which leans on R&B but remains very hip-hop even without the late rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) had 30,000 people dancing on opening weekend.

Only one other concert this year was comparable: Foreign had a hot-blooded crowd of 38,000 at Chevy Park on Aug. 28, nearly doubling what the classic rock band drew to the same stage last year (21,333 in 2021).

All other New York State Fair concerts in 2022 drew well under 20,000 people. Dropkick Murphys was the fifth biggest show of this year with 18,500 fans at Chevy Park on Saturday night, followed by Boyz II Men with 15,500 on August 29.

The fair’s biggest concerts were previously ticketed grandstand events, with capacity limited to around 17,000 for big names like Garth Brooks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Carrie Underwood, Aerosmith and Justin Bieber. The grandstand was demolished in 2016 and the fair began to focus on Chevy Court, drawing large crowds by offering a variety of talent for free with fair admission. The main stage is now Chevy Park, located at the rear of the fairgrounds in a much larger space (five times that of Chevy Court) with a larger stage that can accommodate the demands of modern concert tours, which often include extensive lighting and sound systems and video walls.

As a result, most of the 20 largest crowds in NYS Fair concert history have occurred in the past five years. At the same time, the types of programs that attract the most viewership have also changed.

Now, of the 15 biggest NYS Fair concerts of all time, almost half (7) of them are hip-hop – more than country (1), classic rock (4) and music. pop (2). Nelly, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (40,610 at Chevy Court in 2018) and City Girls are the top three overall, and other acts on the list include Migos, Ludacris and Nas.

Rap duo City Girls performs at Chevy Park at the New York State Fair on Sunday, September 4, 2022. (Photo by Warren Linhart for NYS Fair)

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who listens to the top 40 radio stations or has followed popular music over the past decade.

In 2017, R&B/hip-hop overtook rock to become the largest music genre in the United States by total consumption, according to Nielsen Music; Drake and Kendrick Lamar were the most streamed artists that year with 4.8 million and 3.7 million “equivalent album units” (album sales, song downloads and streams combined) respectively. Hip-hop continues to rule today, according to Billboard; Country singer Morgan Wallen had the #1 album in 2021 (by equivalent album units) but the rest of the top 10 were all rap and pop artists like Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, Pop Smoke, Adele, Doja Cat and The Kid LAROI.

Previously, the New York State Fair’s main stages only featured a small number of hip-hop shows — just three in 2019 (The Roots, Juice WRLD and Ice Cube) — but have clearly embraced the genre more as part of its diverse range. Performers this year included Ice-T, Nelly, 24kGoldn, TLC, Bryce Vine, City Girls and Tai Verdes.

city ​​girls

Crowds watch City Girls perform at the New York State Fair on Sunday, September 4, 2022. (Photo by Warren Linhart for NYS Fair)NYS FAIR

The most popular concerts at the 2022 New York State Fair

1. Nelly – 43,000 at Chevy Park on Wednesday August 31

2. City Girls – 39,000 at Chevy Park on Sunday, September 4

3. Stranger – 38,000 at Chevy Park on Sunday August 28

4. TLC – 30,000 at Chevy Park on Friday, August 26

5. Dropkick Murphys – 18,500 at Chevy Park on Saturday, September 3

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All estimates are provided by fair officials, using a formula that largely focuses on estimating crowd sizes at various sections of Chevy Court and Chevy Park, then adding them together. All concerts at NYS Fair are free with admission.

In 2018, fair officials showed how Chevy Court is divided into grids, including the seating area, the grassy areas surrounding the seats, the courtyard near the Chevy Court Pavilion, the paved areas in front of the Center of Progress Building, and the Dairy Products. building . At least three staff members do the count, taking into account circumstances such as traffic that may cause some spectators to be late, and they compare the numbers during or after the second half of a performance. Then-acting manager Troy Waffner told syracuse.com | The Post-Standard that estimating the crowd in each section as a percentage of maximum capacity leads to a final number that is likely accurate to within five percent.

TLC at the New York State Fair

TLC performs at Chevy Park at the New York State Fair, Syracuse, NY on Friday, August 26, 2022. Scott Schild | [email protected] Scott Schild | [email protected]

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Top 20 Largest Crowds in New York State Fair Concert History:

1. Nelly — 43,000 at Chevy Park in 2022

2. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – 40,610 at Chevy Court in 2018

3. City Girls – 39,000 at Chevy Park in 2022

4. Foreign – 38,000 at Chevy Park in 2022

5. Steve Miller Band — 36,900 at Chevy Court in 2015

6. AJR — 36,397 people at Chevy Park in 2021

7. Bruno Mars — 35,000 at Chevy Court in 2011

8. ZZ Top – 33,875 at Chevy Court in 2018

9. Nelly – 33,713 at Chevy Park in 2021

10. Migos – 31,900 at Chevy Court in 2017

11 (tie). Ludacris – 31,500 at Chevy Court in 2018

11 (tie). Florida Georgia Line – 31,500 at Chevy Court in 2013

13. Chicago — 31,200 at Chevy Court in 2016

14. Nas — 30,750 at Chevy Court in 2015

15. REO Speedwagon – 30,511 at Chevy Park in 2021

16. Dropkick Murphys – 30,200 at Chevy Court in 2019

17 (tie). Sonny & Cher – 30,000 at Empire Court in 1972

17 (tie). Lady A – 30,000 at Chevy Court in 2010

17 (tie). TLC – 30,000 at Chevy Park in 2022

20. Earth, Wind & Fire – 29,900 at Chevy Court in 2017

Note: All attendance figures are provided by the New York State Fair. Concerts at Chevy Park and Chevy Court are free with fair admission.

city ​​girls

Fans cheer on City Girls in Chevy Park at the New York State Fair on Sunday, September 4, 2022. (Warren Linhart for NYS Fair)

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