Yesterday we learned that Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth had matched hip-hop history by topping the Hot 100 for a 12th week with "See You Again," the pair's smash from the Furious 7 soundtrack. The genre has come a long way since Blondie landed the first rap atop the Hot 100 during 1980 (yeah, Blondie) but still: Only seven hip-hop songs have managed to spend at least 10 weeks on top of arguably the biggest chart in music. Join us as we count up from fewest weeks to most weeks at no. 1, and check back next Wednesday to see if Khalifa and co. manage to take history a step further.
Be forewarned, hip-hop-heads: Don't expect too many hardcore bars in this list. You know how the pop charts work.
06) "Dilemma" by Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland...10 weeks
Remember when Nelly was the biggest name in hip-hop, at least in terms of sales? We're sure he does too. Although the St. Lunatic wasn't the first rapper to break double digits in terms of weeks at no. 1, he had about the greatest year in hip-hop history, at least in terms of singles. Many who came up during that era will remember his hit "Hot in Herre" better than "Dilemma," and indeed both had lengthy stops atop the Hot 100. The former spent seven weeks at no. 1 before it was replaced by..."Dilemma." We're not sure how long "Hot" could have gone in the top spot before falling out of favor, and perhaps his record label began pushing the follow-up single too early, but either way you look at it, there was a 17-week period during 2002 where Nelly was no. 1 on the singles chart. That's the third-longest streak of consecutive weeks at no. 1 in history, behind only Boyz II Men and another act, to be discussed later.
05) "Gold Digger" by Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx...10 weeks
Kanye West is probably the most talked-about rapper in the game as of 2015, and odds are it's because of the success of "Gold Digger." He had a no. 1 single before ("Slow Jamz") but that didn't have the lasting impact of this track. The song had generated some buzz when it hit the radio during 2005 but it didn't become available for individual purchase until the album (Late Registration) hit the shelves. "Gold Digger" was one of the singles that demonstrated how the music industry was changing from a physical to digital market as it moved 80,000 copies during its first week (which was, at that point, the record for quickest selling digital song). More importantly, it demonstrated how much of an impact that digital sales could have on the Hot 100. "Gold Digger"s jump from no. 19 to no. 1 in one week was among the largest jumps of all-time, and on the Pop 100 (a separate singles tracking entity) it jumped from no. 94 to no. 2. And of course, West and his penchant for grabbing R&B samples came to the fore, allowing Ray Charles to enjoy his first no. 1 (posthumously, alas) as a songwriter for "I Got A Woman."
04) "Low" by Flo Rida ft. T-Pain...10 weeks
"Gold Digger" and a few other tracks really opened the door for digital downloads as a legitimate money-maker, but the success of Flo Rida's "Low" reveals just how far the format had come in the mere three years since West's single was released. West had the highest single week of digital sales in history when "Gold Digger" sold 80,000 copies...flash forward to 2008 and Flo broke the mark at that time with first-week sales of "Low" that totaled 467,000 digital copies. Tha record has since been broken many times, but at least the emcee can take solace in knowing that one of his hits, "Right Round," is still no. 1 all-time after moving 636,000 downloads during one week of 2009. Regardless, "Right Round" never had the combined download/radio success that "Low" did, which allowed the latter single to stay at no. 1 for 10 weeks. Although he's tied with three other rappers for nos. 5-7 for the longest time atop the Hot 100, he deserves a shout-out for being the only only emcee to do it with his first single.
03) "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy ft. Faith Evans...11 weeks
We mentioned that Nelly hadn't broken the record when "Dilemma" hit ten weeks atop the Hot 100, and that's because Puff Daddy (we're sticking with it because that's what he went by at the time) had already become the first rapper to hit double-digits at no. 1, with the tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. that he did with the late rapper's wife, Faith Evans. "I'll Be Missing You" was a rarity for all songs, not just hip-hop songs, because it debuted at no. 1 on the Hot 100, rather than working its way up after a few weeks on the radio. You have to consider that this is especially impressive, considering the lack of download counts during 1997. "Right Round," the aforementioned song with the highest download count for one week, jumped to no. 1 thanks to that huge week, but it only got as high as no. 58 based on airplay alone. That's why songs tend to take a while to rise on the Hot 100...radio DJs don't just dump a new single on listeners, and it takes a period of listener requests before it gets to the top of the radio charts. That wasn't the case with "Missing You," which radio hosts began spinning instantly and often due to the still fresh news of Biggie's death. It's interesting to note that both "Missing You" and "See You Again," two of the four biggest chart-topping rap songs of all time, both deal with the loss of a close friend.
02) "Lose Yourself" by Eminem...12 weeks
We mentioned that "I'll Be Missing You" was a rarity due to its immediate placement at the top of the Hot 100. The next song to do so would be Eminem's "Not Afraid," more than 13 years later. That wasn't the first time the emcee had scuffed one of Puff's highlights however. The first time was when "Lose Yourself" broke his record for most weeks at no. 1 by a hip-hop song, becoming the first to stay there for 12 weeks. Granted, he didn't rise right to the top: It took more than a month for the song to hit no. 1 but it locked in afterward. If any performer should have a beef with Eminem for staying in the top position for 12 weeks, it ought to be Missy Elliott. That emcee has never had a no. 1 single on the Hot 100 and it's mostly due to bad timing: Her "Work It" was released on the radio at roughly the same time as the 8 Mile track, meaning the song spent 10 weeks at no. 2, kept from the top spot only by the year's biggest single. It's almost as if he planned it...as soon as a song that wasn't "Work It" took the no. 2 spot during early 2003, "Lose Yourself" stepped aside.
01) "Boom Boom Pow" by The Black Eyed Peas...12 weeks
The Black Eyed Peas would be the second outfit to reach 12 weeks with a hip-hop single. If Khalifa fails to attain the record 13th week when the Hot 100 is revealed on July 15, we'll have to look to the pop-hop foursome and wonder "what-if." The Peas, much like Nelly's decision to push "Dilemma" while "Hot In Herre" was still at no. 1, were simultaneously the biggest act on Earth and the source of their own "downfall." "Boom Boom Pow" had just reached the 12 weeks mark when it was surpassed by "I Gotta Feeling," which would stay at no. 1 for another 14 weeks. This means that the group has the longest streak atop the Hot 100 ever, having been there for 26 consecutive weeks altogether (just about half a year), and during the end of "Boom Boom Pow"s run became the first band since The Beatles to take the nos. 1 and 2 spots on the Hot 100 as a headlining act. But wait, if "I Gotta Feeling" spent 14 weeks at no. 1, shouldn't it hold the sole record for longest streak by a hip-hop song at no. 1? No. Hardcore hip-hop fans are probably disgusted that "Boom Boom Pow" was cleared for eligibility but Billboard didn't do the same for "I Gotta Feeling," which it deemed a purely-pop song, thus preventing a record.
But who knows? Khalifa and Puth could prove us wrong next week and earn that elusive 13th week.