(December 16, 2019). For the past few years, no music genre has been more dominant than hip-hop. Since 2017, it has been the most consumed genre in the US and in many other countries, thanks mainly to the explosion of streaming.
It’s no surprise then that the Billboard charts have reflected this phenomenon in each of the past three years as record numbers of hip-hop albums have topped the main list, the Billboard 200. Since January 2017, 47 albums that qualify as hip-hop have ruled the chart.
But in 2019, an even more promising statistic has emerged that bodes well for the future of the genre: more hip-hop artists achieved their first No. 1 albums in 2019 than in any other year.
This week, with the debut of Roddy Ricch’s album Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial at the top of the Billboard 200, ten rappers have achieved their first No. 1 sets this year.
That’s more than any other year and tops the previous record-holder of 1997 when nine rap acts gained their first No. 1s (more on that below).
In chronological order, this year’s record-setters are, by Artist (album title; chart date):
- 21 Savage (I Am > I Was; Jan. 5)
- A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (Hoodie SZN; Jan. 19)
- Juice WRLD (Death Race for Love; Mar. 23)
- Nav (Bad Habits; Apr. 6)
- Tyler, the Creator (IGOR; Jun. 1)
- Young Thug (So Much Fun; Aug. 31)
- DaBaby (Kirk; Oct. 12)
- YoungBoy Never Broke Again (AI YoungBoy 2; Oct. 26)
- Trippie Redd (A Love Letter to You; Dec. 7)
- Roddy Ricch (Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial; Dec. 21)
Even though none of those artists had ever achieved a No. 1 album before 2019, none of them were true rookies when they hit the top as all of them had released other mixtapes, EPs or albums prior to their No. 1 triumphs.
For example, DaBaby’s debut album Baby on Baby was released just seven months before Kirk, but it peaked at No. 7. Kirk became his first chart topper in October.
Likewise, the late Juice WRLD’s debut album Goodbye and Good Riddance peaked at No. 4 in 2018 while his collaboration with Future, WRLD on Drugs, peaked at No. 2 later that year. Both Goodbye and Death Race for Love, which became his first No. 1 last March, returned to the top ten this week in the wake of Juice’s untimely passing on Dec. 8.
Tyler, the Creator released four studio albums that peaked at each of the other positions in the top five before IGOR became his first No. 1 in June. Goblin peaked at No. 5 in 2011, Wolf peaked at No. 3 in 2013, Cherry Bomb reached No. 4 in 2015, and Flower Boy topped out at No. 2 in 2017.
Young Thug reached the Billboard 200 with seven different releases (more than any of this year’s other first-timers), including mixtapes, EPs, and a compilation album, before So Much Fun became his first No. 1 studio album in August.
And the current No. 1 occupant, Roddy Ricch, first reached the Billboard 200 with his second mixtape, Feed Tha Streets II, which climbed to No. 67 in 2018. Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial is his first official studio album, so you might call it a debut.
Ten hip-hop artists achieving their first No. 1 albums in the same year is indeed an accomplishment. The highest number to achieve their first No. 1s in any year prior to 2019 was nine, which happened in 1997 when Scarface, The Notorious BIG, Wu-Tang Clan, Puff Daddy, Master P, Foxy Brown, AZ, Nature and Mase did the trick (although three of those – Foxy, AZ and Nature – were with the same album as part of the group The Firm). That came during what was the apex of hip/hop’s first major expansion into the mainstream during the 1990s.
No other year has had more than six different artists achieve their first No. 1 albums.
The only sad footnote to all of this is that three hip-hop albums in this week’s top ten are by deceased rappers, another dubious distinction in 2019. Two are by Juice WRLD and one is the posthumous new release by XXXTentacion, whose Bad Vibes Forever débuts at No. 5.
In total, seventeen hip-hip albums have hit No. 1 in 2019, with one more chart week remaining to tie last year’s record of 18.
DJRob is a freelance blogger who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.
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