These 50 famous rappers have never had a No. 1 album…

(March 25, 2022).  The first rap album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart (which measures the best-selling and most consumed albums each week) happened in March 1987.   It was the Beastie Boys’ License To Ill, which at the time was considered a major triumph for a genre that only months earlier had its highest peak and closest near-miss (Run-DMC’s Raising Hell, at No. 3).  Prior to that, no other hip-hop album (in the eight years that they’d been charting) had even gotten a whiff of the top.

It was during those first eight lean years (1979-87) that some of hip-hop’s greatest MCs emerged, folks like Grandmaster Flash (and Melle Mel), Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Rakim, Kool Moe Dee, Whodini, KRS-One, Public Enemy just to name a few.  And while they certainly were bridge builders for a rap genre that has now been the most consumed form of music for five years and counting, most of those early icons missed out on the fruits of what has been a very lucrative business for rappers (and record companies) since. 

In the 35 years since that first No. 1 triumph by the Beasties, 239 No. 1 albums by more than 120 different rap artists—both soloists and groups—have topped the main Billboard list, with nearly half of those occurring in the last ten years alone.  Jay-Z leads the pack with 14 different No. 1 albums, while Eminem, Kanye West and Drake are all tied for second with 10 each.

The most recent rapper to get his first No. 1 was the Kid Laroi, an Australian teenager whose maiden voyage to the top of the chart occurred last August.  By doing so, he avoided a fate that has befallen a number of classic hip-hop artists over the past five decades who’ve never had a No. 1 album.  

Djrobblog has compiled a list of (at least) 50 noteworthy rap acts throughout hip-hop history that have never topped Billboard’s premier weekly album ranking, the Billboard 200.  Some of these rappers are iconic MCs whose only fault was predating rap’s commercial explosion in the late 1980s and early ‘90s.  

Other more recent artists have come close, but due to a combination of bad timing (going against stronger releases) or, perhaps, gender biases (there are a lot of women on this list), they never quite made it to the top.

Here they are, listed alphabetically.  The (solo) designation after an artist’s name indicates that the rapper never topped the chart as a solo artist but managed to hit No. 1 as part of a group. You might be surprised who’s on this list…

Azealia Banks

Highest chart position: No. 30 (‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ – 2014)

Big Daddy Kane

Highest chart position: No. 33 (‘It’s a Big Daddy Thang’ – 1989)

Big Pun

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘Yeeeah Baby’ – 2000)

Boogie Down Productions/KRS-One

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘I Got Next’ – 1997)

Boosie Badazz (aka: Lil Boosie)

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘Touch Down 2 Cause Hell’ – 2015)

Bun B

Highest chart position: No. 2 (‘II Trill’ – 2008)

Cam’ron

Highest chart position: No. 2 (twice: ‘Come Home With Me’ – 2002; ‘Killa Season’ – 2006)

Craig Mack

Highest chart position: No. 21 (‘Project Funk Da World’ – 1994)

Da Brat

Highest chart position: No. 5 (‘Unrestricted’ – 2000)

D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (Will Smith)

Highest chart position: No. 4 (‘He’s the D.J., I’m the Rapper’ – 1988)

Doja Cat

Highest chart position: No. 2 (‘Planet Her’ – 2021)

Doug E. Fresh

Highest chart position: No. 88 (‘The World’s Greatest Entertainer’ – 1988)

Dr. Dre (solo)

Highest chart position: No. 2 (twice: ‘2001’ – 1999; ‘Compton’ – 2015) [note: ‘The Chronic’ peaked at No. 3 in 1993]

Eazy-E (solo)

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘Str8 Off Tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin’ Compton’ – 1996)

Eightball & M. J. G.

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘Living Legends’ – 2004)

E-40

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘My Ghetto Report Card’ – 2006)

Fat Boys

Highest chart position: No. 8 (‘Crushin’’ – 1987)

Fat Joe

Highest chart position: No. 6 (twice: ‘All or Nothing’ – 2005; ‘The Elephant in the Room’ – 2008)

Flo-Rida

Highest chart position: No. 4 (‘Mail on Sunday’ – 2008)

French Montana

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘Jungle Rules’ – 2017)

Ghostface Killah (solo)

Highest chart position: No. 2 (‘Ironman’ – 1996)

Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five/ Melle Mel

Highest chart position: No. 53 (‘The Message’ – 1982)

Gucci Mane

Highest chart position: No. 2 (twice: ‘Everybody Looking’ – 2016; ‘Mr. Davis’ – 2017)

Ice-T

Highest chart position: No. 14 (‘Home Invasion’ – 1993)

Kid ‘n Play

Highest chart position: No. 58 (‘Funhouse’ – 1990)

Killer Mike

Highest chart position: No. 10 (‘Monster’ – 2003)

Kool Moe Dee

Highest chart position: No. 25 (‘Knowledge Is King’ -1989)

Kurtis Blow

Highest chart position: No. 71 (‘Kurtis Blow’ – 1980)

Lil Kim

Highest chart position: No. 4 (‘The Notorious K.I.M.’ – 2000)

The Lox

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘Money, Power & Respect’ – 1998)

Luke Skywalker/2 Live Crew

Highest chart position: No. 21 (‘Banned in the U.S.A.’ – 1990)

MC Lyte

Highest chart position: No. 59 (‘Bad As I Wanna B’ – 1996)

Megan Thee Stallion

Highest chart position: No. 2 (‘Good News’ – 2020)

Method Man (solo)

Highest chart position: No. 2 (twice: ‘Tical 2000: Judgment Day’ – 1998; ‘Tical 0: The Prequel’ – 2004)

Mia X

Highest chart position: No. 7 (‘Mama Drama’ – 1998)

Missy Elliott

Highest chart position: No. 2 (twice: ‘Miss E… So Addictive’ – 2001; ‘The Cookbook’ – 2005)

Nipsey Hussle

Highest chart position: No. 2 (‘Victory Lap’ – 2018)

Public Enemy

Highest chart position: No. 4 (‘Apocalypse’91… The Enemy Strikes Black’ – 1991)

Pusha T

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘Daytona’ – 2018)

Queen Latifah

Highest chart position: No. 11 (‘Travelin’ Light’ – 2007) *note: ‘Travelin’ Light’ is a jazz album with Latifah singing, vs. rapping)

Raekwon (solo)

Highest chart position: No. 4 (twice: ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…’ – 1995; ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. 2’ – 2009)

Rakim

Highest chart position: No. 4 (‘The 18th Letter’ – 1997) [note: Eric B. & Rakim peaked at No. 22 twice with ‘Follow the Leader’ (1988) and ‘Don’t Sweat the Technique’ (1992)]

Redman

Highest chart position: No. 4 (‘Malpractice’ – 2001) [note: Redman peaked at No. 2 in 1998 on a collaboration with Def Squad (‘El Niño’)]

The Roots

Highest chart position: No. 4 (twice: ‘Things Fall Apart) – 1999; ‘The Tipping Point’ – 2004)

Roxanne Shanté

Highest chart position: None (Shante’s two albums failed to make the Billboard 200 chart)

Run-DMC

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘Raising Hell’ – 1986)

Salt-N-Pepa

Highest chart position: No. 4 (‘Very Necessary’ – 1993)

Sequence/Angie Stone

Highest chart position: none (The Sequence’s three albums failed to make the Billboard 200 chart). Angie Stone has had several charted albums as a solo singer, the highest of which was ‘The Art of Love & War’ (No. 11; 2007)

Slick Rick

Highest chart position: No. 8 (‘The Art of Storytelling’ – 1999)

Sugar Hill Gang

Highest chart position: No. 50 (‘8th Wonder’ – 1981)

Too $hort

Highest chart position: No. 3 (‘Gettin’ It (Album No. 10)’ – 1996)

Treacherous Three

Highest chart position: none (their two studio albums failed to make the Billboard 200)

Trina

Highest chart position: No. 8 (‘Still Da Baddest’ – 2008)

Whodini

Highest chart position: No. 30 (‘Open Sesame’ – 1987)

Yo Yo

Highest chart position: No. 74 (‘Make Way for the Motherlode’ – 1991)

Okay, so maybe not all of them are “icons,” but they’re at least well known names in the hip-hop community, either today or in years past. Were any of them your favorites? Or did any surprise you to be on this list of rappers that never had a No. 1 album?

Provide your comments below or in any of the social media feeds where the article is posted.

DJRob

DJRob (he/him/his) is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.

You can also register for free (below) to receive notifications of future articles.

Your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Djrobblog.com
%d bloggers like this: