(August 18, 2023). It took a whole decade to get there, but hip-hop achieved its 50th Hot 100 entry in September 1989, nearly ten years after its first in November 1979. These days, it wouldn’t be unfathomable to find a single week’s chart with 50-plus hip-hop songs on it (it’s happened before).

If you’re between the ages of, say 50 and 55, then you might recall a time when commercial rap music wasn’t so popular.  In your youth, you were happy if your parents let you get your hands on the latest 12” single release on the Sugar Hill Records or Def Jam labels.

Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” was hip-hop’s first entry on Billboard’s Hot 100 in Nov. 1979.

If you’re between 40 and 50, then you’ve always known about rap music and might fondly remember hip-hop’s golden era of the late 1980s, before its ‘90s expansion essentially put it on the mainstream map forever.

And, if you’re under 40, well you just don’t recall a time when rap music didn’t exist, period.

In fact, since the mid-to-late 1980s after it got past pop music’s radio barrier—thanks to consistent hit-making acts like Run-DMC, LL Cool J, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, the Fat Boys and the Beastie Boys—rap music hasn’t been absent from the Hot 100, Billboard’s flagship singles chart.

Data point: there’s been at least one rap song on the Hot 100 every week since July 11, 1987, when the Fat Boys’ “Wipeout” remake began a remarkable rap/hip-hop Hot 100 charting streak that’s lasted 36 years and one month (and counting), with no end in sight.

The week prior to that—July 4, 1987–was the last time the Hot 100 was without any rap or hip-hop songs on it.

As someone over the age of 55, I remember well those lean years and how we considered the latest chart successes by The Fat Boys and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince—as novelty as they were—to be minor victories for rap.  Hip-hop’s brass played the long game and knew that, for it to have a future, the genre had to include music that was considered “safe” and accessible by white people.

But there were many weeks, months and years prior to July 1987 when rap was simply non-existent on the Hot 100–dubbed as Billboard’s pop chart at the time (it became a more inclusive ranking with rule changes that occurred in the late 1990s).

The fact that it took hip-hop a full decade after its Nov. 1979 debut on that chart before it gained its 50th entry is as good an indicator of its slow migration into the pop mainstream as any.

As hard as it may be for millennials and younger folks to believe, the genre that has dominated all others in music consumption for the past seven years, and counting, sometimes went months between Hot 100 entries in the early ‘80s.  If you’re thinking that Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” opened rap music’s floodgates on the Hot 100, think again.  

It was another seven months after that classic exited the Hot 100 before another rap song—Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks”—removed hip-hop from being a one-hit-wonder forever.  

Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” Is the second rap song to make the Hot 100 (beginning in Sept. 1980).

Djrobblog chronicles those lean years and the first 50 rap/hip-hop songs to make the Billboard Hot 100, beginning with Sugar Hill Gang’s breakthrough in 1979 and concluding with “Me So Horny” by 2 Live Crew ten years later.  There’s a Spotify playlist containing all of these songs at the end of this article.

Listed chronologically by “Song Title” – Artist (Hot 100 debut date, chart peak):

  1. “Rapper’s Delight” – Sugar Hill Gang (11/10/1979, No. 36).
  2. “The Breaks” – Kurtis Blow (09/13/1980, No. 87)
  3. “Rapture” – Blondie (01/31/1981, No. 1)
  4. “8th Wonder” – Sugar Hill Gang (02/07/1981, No. 82)
  5. “Double Dutch Bus” – Frankie Smith (05/31/1981, No. 30)
  6. “General Hospi-Tale” – The Afternoon Delights (07/25/1981, No. 33)
  7. “Apache” – Sugar Hill Gang (02/13/1982, No. 53)
  8. “Planet Rock” – Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force (07/17/1982, No. 48)
  9. “The Message” – Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five (10/16/1982, No. 62)
  10. “Rappin’ Rodney” – Rodney Dangerfield (12/3/1983, No. 83)
  11. “Electric Kingdom” – Twilight 22 (12/17/1983, No. 79)
  12. “Jam On It” – Newcleus (06/02/1984, No. 56)
  13. “Beat Streat” – Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five (08/04/1984, No. 86)
  14. “Friends”/”Five Minutes of Funk” – Whodini (01/05/1985, No. 87)
  15. “Roxanne, Roxanne” – UTFO (03/05/1985, No. 77)
  16. “Basketball” – Kurtis Blow (04/13/1985, No. 71)
  17. “Walk This Away” – Run-DMC (07/26/1986, No. 4)
  18. “You Be Illin'” – Run-DMC (10/25/1986, No. 29)
  19. “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” – Beastie Boys (12/20/1986, No. 7)
  20. “It’s Tricky” – Run-DMC (02/28/1987, No. 57)
  21. “Brass Monkey” – Beastie Boys (03/21/1987, No. 48)
  22. “Go See The Doctor” – Kool Moe Dee (04/18/1987, No. 89)
  23. “Wipe Out” – Fat Boys & Beach Boys (07/11/1987, No. 12)
  24. “I’m Bad” – LL Cool J (07/11/1987 , No. 84)
  25. “I Need Love” – LL Cool J (08/01/1987, No. 14)
  26. “Push It” – Salt-n-Pepa (11/21/1987, No. 19)
  27. “Going Back To Cali” – LL Cool J (02/20/1988, No. 31)
  28. “Supersonic” – J. J. Fad (04/23/1988, No. 30)
  29. “Wild Wild West” – Kool Moe Dee (04/30/1988, No. 62)
  30. “Parents Just Don’t Understand” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (05/21/1988, No. 12)
  31. “Colors” – Ice-T (06/11/1988, No. 70)
  32. “The Twist” – Fat Boys & Chubby Checker (06/18/1988, No. 16)
  33. “A Nightmare On My Street” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (07/30/1988, No. 15)
  34. “Mary, Mary” – Run-DMC (07/30/1988, No. 75)
  35. “It Takes Two” – Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock (08/20/1988, No. 36)
  36. “Way Out” – J. J. Fad (09/17/1988, No. 61)
  37. “Cars With The Boom” – L’Trimm (09/24/1988, No. 54)
  38. “Louie, Louie” – Fat Boys (10/15/1988, No. 89)
  39. “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (10/29/1988, No. 57)
  40. “Wild Thing” – Tone Loc (12/03/1988, No. 2)
  41. “Is It Love” – J. J. Fad (12/10/1988, No. 92)
  42. “Posse On Broadway” – Sir Mix-a-Lot (12/17/1988, No. 70)
  43. “Funky Cold Medina” – Tone Loc (03/04/1989, No. 4)
  44. “Buffalo Stance” – Neneh Cherry (04/01/1989, No. 3)
  45. “Joy and Pain” – Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock (05/27/1989, No. 58)
  46. “Me, Myself and I” – De La Soul (06/03/1989, No. 34)
  47. “I’m That Type of Guy” – LL Cool J (06/10/1989, No. 15)
  48. “Bust A Move” – Young M.C. (07/29/1989, No. 7)
  49. “Hey Ladies” – Beastie Boys (08/05/1989, No. 36)
  50. “Me So Horny” – 2 Live Crew (09/09/1989, No. 26)

Those are the first 50 rap/hip-hop songs to make the Hot 100, covering a span of ten years from the Nov. 10, 1979 début of Sugar Hill Gang to the Sept. 9, 1989 entry of 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny.”

And if you’re counting, you’ll note that LL Cool J and Run-DMC contributed the most to those first 50, with four hits apiece. Sugar Hill Gang, J. J. Fad, Beastie Boys, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, and The Fat Boys are next with three hits apiece. Those seven acts account for nearly half (23) of the chart’s first 50 hip-hop hits.

And yes, Salt-n-Pepa was the first female rap act to make the Hot 100 with “Push It” predating J. J. Fad’s “Supersonic” by five months in 1987.

Note: This list required the use of some judgment.  I excluded Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” because, well, I didn’t consider it “hip-hop” (Wikipedia has also defined it as a form of “West German Rock Music derived from post-punk and new wave”), and because it’s not widely acknowledged as one of rap’s first No. 1 singles.

Blondie’s “Rapture,” with its extended rap bridge and coda by lead singer Debbie Harry, is considered by some to be the first No. 1 rap song, though others don’t include it in the hip-hop genre.

Conversely, I did include Blondie’s “Rapture” because of the group’s heavy influence by the hip-hop scene and their close alliance with some of its pioneers.

I also included novelty tunes like “General Hospi-Tale,” and “Rappin’ Rodney” because they were clearly nods to the growing rap phenomenon (although no one would dare consider them hip-hop) and they’re no less worthy than the novelty hits by Fat Boys (IMHO).

Enjoy this Spotify playlist containing all of the above tunes (where available):


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

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