In the history of popular music, there have been periods of time when men dominated the charts, particularly in the early days of rock and roll before women came into their own, and again more recently during the hip-hop era.
But with the unveiling of the latest No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart this week, six current hit-makers have conspired to accomplish something that has never happened before on the album list in the more than six decades of its existence.
They’ve strung together six consecutive No. 1 albums by male solo artists. No women. No groups. No duos. Just six male solo performers with consecutive No. 1 albums.
Here’s the breakdown:
New York rapper/singer A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (real name Julius Dubose) moves up to No. 1 on the current chart dated January 19 with his latest release Hoodie SZN.
A Boogie succeeds Atlanta rapper 21 Savage (real name Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) who spent two weeks at No. 1 on the January 5th and 12th-dated charts with I Am > I Was.
That album replaced Florida rapper Kodak Black’s first No. 1, Dying To Live, which led the last week in December. Kodak’s album replaced the late XXXTentacion’s posthumous No. 1 Skins, which topped the chart the week before Christmas.
Skins was preceded by Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill’s Champions in mid-December, which was immediately preceded by Travis Scott’s returning champion Astroworld on the chart dated December 8.
That’s six No. 1 albums in a row by male solo artists…all in the past seven weeks.
What’s more, all six of the albums in this streak are by hip-hop artists. And all six happen to be black men.
Needless to say, that’s also never happened before in Billboard chart history: not in the days of Usher, Chris Brown, 50 Cent and Jay-Z. Not in the days of Biggie, 2Pac and Nas. Not in the era of Prince, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. Not even in the days of Stevie, Marvin, the Isleys and the Temptations.
Not at any time have six different solo men – regardless of race or music genre – succeeded each other at No. 1.
However, there’ve been a couple close calls.
In 1974, Marvin Hamlisch, Gordon Lightfoot, Elton John, John Denver, Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder all hit No. 1, and they would have been consecutive were it not for Paul McCartney & Wings’ Band On The Run album, which ran interference at No. 1 for several weeks in the midst of the other albums’ turns at the top.
And in early 2013, five solo male acts – Chris Tomlin, A$AP Rocky, Gary Allan, Justin Bieber and Josh Groban – racked up consecutive No. 1 albums before they were interrupted by rock group Mumford & Sons returning to No. 1 with the album Babel. After Babel, two more solo men (Bruno Mars and Luke Bryan) resumed the streak with their No. 1 sets, making it seven out of eight by male solo acts.
In the category of strange chart coincidences, the band Mumford & Sons also factors into breaking up the current streak of solo males at the summit.
Before Astroworld returned to the top last month, the No. 1 album was Mumford & Sons’ latest album Delta. Before that, there were two more solo males at the top: country singer Kane Brown during Thanksgiving Week and hip-hop producer Metro Boomin (real name Leland Tyler Wayne out of St. Louis) the week prior.
With Brown and Boomin both also being black, that means eight of the last nine No. 1 albums are by African-American solo men.
That is unprecedented success by any standard during any era. Until recently, rarely had there even been eight No. 1 albums by black male acts during an entire calendar year (although there were 15 in 2018), much less eight over a two-month period.
There’s a flip-side to all this current success, though.
The current No. 1 album by A Boogie owes virtually all of its ranking to streaming as it only sold 823 albums last week (all digital downloads, no physical copies were issued). Those 823 copies weren’t even enough to place it on Billboard’s 100-position sales-only album chart, a different list that doesn’t include streaming numbers. The No. 1 album on that list is A Star Is Born soundtrack, itself with only a meager 21,000 units sold.
Those numbers reflect how irrelevant actual albums sales are today. Streaming has been the predominant means of music consumption for several years now, and hip-hop, which is still a predominantly male-dominated field, has been the biggest benefactor.
Yet even rap’s record-breaking year in 2018 (18 No. 1 albums) couldn’t have foretold this latest achievement – the streak of six consecutive men at No. 1 – which is a history-making moment for hip-hop, for black male acts, and for male solo artists in general.
Now who said rappers couldn’t work together?
Congrats to the six men involved: Travis Scott, Meek Mill, XXXTentacion, Kodak Black, 21 Savage and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie!
They’re definitely keepin’ it 💯!