Just when you thought you’d heard it all about how dominant hip-hop has been as a musical force in the past 18 months, it notches yet another feather in its cap as it continues to be the top music genre consumed in America.
It accomplishes this latest feat as Drake’s single “Nice For What” returns to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for its third time (and seventh non-consecutive week overall).
With his ascension, Drake gives rap and hip-hop the Number One song for the 21st(!) straight week on the Hot 100. It’s the first time in the chart’s history that hip-hop songs have reigned for that long, non-stop.
To put this in perspective, the last time a non-rap/hip-hop song was No. 1 was back on January 27 when Camila Cabello was at the top with “Havana,” and even her tune featured a rapper (Young Thug).
If you credit Young Thug’s appearance on “Havana,” then the number increases to 22 weeks, with the last non-rap affiliated Number One song being Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” which was last at the top on January 20. But for the purpose of this article, we’ll exclude “Havana.”
By doing that, a total of four Number One songs have combined to create this historic achievement. The streak began when Drake’s previous chart topper, “God’s Plan,” ascended the peak on the February 3 list and held there for eleven weeks (his biggest hit to date, btw).
“God’s Plan” was replaced by “Nice For What,” making Drake one of only a handful of artists of any genre to replace himself at No. 1. “Nice For What” held on for four weeks before having its run interrupted by Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” for two weeks.
“Nice For What” then returned for two more weeks beginning with the June 2-dated chart, before being temporarily displaced from No. 1 (again) by Post Malone’s “Psycho,” featuring Ty Dolla Sign, for one week.
That set the stage for Drake’s latest return with “Nice For What” now back at the top for its seventh non-consecutive week.
By moving back into No. 1 a third time, Drake also joins a very short list of six artists to have done that in the chart’s history. It first happened in 1978/79 when Chic’s disco classic “Le Freak” moved in and out of No. 1 three times. It wouldn’t happen again until 2008 when “Bleeding Love” by British singer Leona Lewis did it. Others to triple yo-yo the No. 1 slot since then include rapper T.I. (“Whatever You Like”), Bruno Mars (“Grenade”), and The Weeknd (“Cant Feel My Face”).
A few asterisked footnotes:
Before this year, the longest hip-hop had reigned on the Hot 100 was back in 2003 when 50 Cent (“In Da Club” and “21 Questions”) and Sean Paul (“Get Busy”) combined for 16 straight weeks at the top. And it’s being generous to include Sean Paul who is sometimes considered a hip-hop artist, but “Get Busy” was more of a dancehall track.
Excluding Sean Paul, the longest time hip-hop reigned was fourteen straight weeks in 2002 when Nelly’s “Hot In Herre” and “Dilemma” reigned for seven weeks each, consecutively. And even that needs to be asterisked because “Dilemma” was more of a hip-hop ballad (featuring Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child) than a rap song.
If you exclude “Dilemma,” then the longest previous streak was 13 weeks, which happened twice (and both involved Sean “Puff Daddy/P.Diddy” Combs): first in 1997 when Puff Daddy & Faith Evans feat. 112 held for eleven weeks with “I’ll Be Missing You” before being replaced by Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems” (featuring Puff Daddy and Ma$e) for two weeks.
Then in 2002, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” reigned for 12 weeks before being replaced by B2K & P. Diddy’s “Bump, Bump, Bump” for one week.
So any way you slice it, the current streak of 21 consecutive weeks at No. 1 (and counting) is a major accomplishment and another huge victory for hip-hop.
And with other rap/hip-hop songs by Cardi B and Juice WRLD looming in the top ten this week, it doesn’t appear the streak will end anytime soon.