A Tribe Called Quest Returns to No. 1 on Billboard 200 Chart After 20-Year Wait

Matt Salacuse
Q-Tip and Jarobi White, photographed Nov. 6 in Brooklyn.

Hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest tops the Billboard 200 albums chart for the first time in more than 20 years, as the act’s new album, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, debuts at No. 1. The set, which was released on Nov. 11 through Epic Records, earned 135,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Nov. 17, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 112,000 were in traditional album sales.

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new Dec. 3-dated chart (where A Tribe Called Quest starts at No. 1) will be posted in full to Billboard’s websites on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

We Got It From Here is A Tribe Called Quest’s second No. 1, following Beats, Rhymes and Life, which topped the list for one week on the chart dated Aug. 17, 1996 — 20 years and three months ago. That gap between No. 1s is the longest for a hip-hop act in the chart’s history. Previously, Jeezy —just two weeks ago — held the longest wait between No. 1s among hip-hop acts, with eight years and two months between The Recession in September of 2008 and Trap or Die 3 this month.

The last act — among all genres of music — to wait longer between No. 1s was Lionel Richie in 2012. That year, he reached No. 1 with Tuskegee, 25 years and six months after he last topped the chart with 1986’s Dancing on the Ceiling. (The longest wait overall between No. 1s — among living acts — belongs to Bob Dylan, who went 30 years and six months between Desire in 1976 and Modern Times in 2006. The longest wait among all acts, living or dead, is owned by Ray Charles. There was a 42-year and four-month gap between Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music in 1962 and Genius Loves Company in 2005.)

It’s worth noting that the first rap/hip-hop album to lead the Billboard 200 was Beastie BoysLicensed to Ill, which reached No. 1 almost 30 years ago, on March 7, 1987. Beastie Boys also clocked the 10th No. 1 rap album, Ill Communication, in 1994. A Tribe Called Quest’s previous No. 1, Beats, Rhymes and Life, was the 20th hip-hop album to top the Billboard 200.

We Got It From Here is billed as A Tribe Called Quest’s final album. It is the group’s first studio release since 1998’s The Love Movement and the first since the death of the act’s Phife Dawg in March.

The rest of the new top 10 on the Billboard 200 is scheduled to be announced on Nov. 21.