Rap Goes A Year Without A No. 1. Is The Genre Dead?

Rap Goes A Year Without A No. 1. Is The Genre Dead?

The question arises as the clock ticks a full year since a rap song has dominated the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The last rap track to enjoy this achievement was Nicki Minaj’s “Super Freaky Girl,” holding the throne for just one week.

A Non-Rap King Rules the Charts

As of the week of Aug. 27, ​​an entire year has elapsed without a rap song claiming the top position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The last rap track to achieve this feat was Nicki Minaj’s “Super Freaky Girl,” which held the coveted spot for a single week.

Now, the coveted No.1 position is occupied by country singer Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond.”  One user on X explained her opinion on why it is the No.1 song, because it is relatable for many Americans. She claims the song’s message resonates with Americans, critiquing affluent politicians while emphasizing the challenges faced by average workers. The user wrote: 

“Americans are in economic pain. Something needs to change fast & the facade of Republicans vs Democrats is impeding this change.” 

Rap’s Near Misses

Several rap songs have come close but haven’t clinched the top spot. Notably, Drake and 21 Savage’s “Rich Flex,” Drake’s “Search & Rescue,” and Lil Durk’s “All My Life,” featuring J.Cole, all made it to No.2.

Reflecting on history, the last time the Billboard Hot 100 went an entire year without a rap song on top was in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” and Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” marked that period.

Despite the death of No.1 hits, rap remains the most consumed genre in the U.S. According to Luminate, R&B/Hip-Hop accounts for 25.9% of all consumption, making it the most streamed genre. Although rap albums have struggled to reach the No.1 spot on the Billboard 200, Lil Uzi Vert’s Pink Tape managed the feat in 2023.

Billboard’s Charting Challenges

Artists have begun questioning Billboard’s accuracy in charting music. Rapper Russ accused Billboard of inaccurately representing his album sales, while rap legend Jay-Z’s album Magna Carta faced certification controversy due to changing certification rules. 

Streaming services hold immense power in shaping Billboard’s rankings. Streams through paid subscriptions like Spotify and Apple Music have more weight compared to those through ad-supported platforms like Pandora or LiveOne.

Nicki Minaj’s Potential Resurgence

However, the Queen Of Rap’s upcoming single “Last Time I Saw You,” slated for release on September 1st, could potentially end the dry spell for rap atop the Billboard charts.

Bow Wow Calls For More Originality In Hip-Hop/Rap

As the debate around the state of modern hip-hop intensifies, artists like Bow Wow have openly criticized the genre’s quality, calling for more originality and substance. The music landscape evolves, challenging both artists and industry leaders to adapt and maintain the genre’s legacy.

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