The Year in R&B/Hip-Hop Charts: Beyonce & Drake Reign

2016 saw continued success for R&B/hop-hop stars like Drake, The Weeknd, Beyonce, and Rihanna, while sharing the chart spotlight with new faces including Desiigner and Bryson Tiller. Meanwhile, Prince’s death in April prompted sales gains for the late musician, positioning him at the top of R&B/hip-hip catalog lists.

2016 Year-End Charts: Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists | Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs | Hot Rap Songs | R&B Albums

For a second straight year, Drake leads the annual list of top R&B/hip-hop artists. He had his best charting song ever with “One Dance,” featuring WizKid and Kyla, breaking the record for the most weeks ever at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart when it led the list for 18 consecutive weeks. Drake’s latest full-length studio album, Views, is the year’s No. 1 R&B/hip-hop album, also taking top rap album honors.

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Beyonce is 2016’s top female R&B/hip-hop act (and finishes at No. 2 on the overall Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists list) thanks to the release of Lemonade and its assorted hit songs. The album’s streaming-exclusive with Tidal activated digital song sales on alternative platforms, placing her as the top R&B digital song seller. Her social media activity and sales from her Lemonade tour also count towards her artist rank.


The breakout song of the year was Desiigner’s “Panda.” The success of the rapper’s debut chart hit helps earn him the title of top new R&B/hip-hop artist of 2016. “Panda” has (so far) collected over 750 million streams and 1.5 million digital song downloads since its February release. It’s the overall Hot Rap Songs title of the year – where it spent 17 weeks at No. 1 on the weekly chart, more than any other song during the eligibility year. The 19-year-old also earned his first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit when the single spent two weeks atop the overall chart in May.

Another new artist arrived with noteworthy chart feats. R&B singer Bryson Tiller closes the year as the No. 2 new R&B/hip-hop artist (and No. 7 R&B/hip-hop artist overall). His debut set, TRAPSOUL, ends the year as the No. 5 R&B album, following only the latest releases by established acts Beyonce, Rihanna, The Weeknd, and Chris Brown. Since its release, Tiller’s album tracks have garnered 1.7 billion U.S. streams. The flood of streams helped Tiller to place nine concurrently charting tracks on the Hot R&B Songs chart for four total weeks this year – the only new act to achieve as many simultaneous chart hits. 

Rihanna caps the year as with the No. 1 R&B/hip-hop airplay song with “Needed Me,” while her “Work,” featuring Drake, takes the top spot on the year-end R&B streaming songs list. In all, the singer scored 12 entries on the Hot R&B Song chart during the year, many triggered by the release of her eighth studio album Anti, making her the top Hot R&B Songs act.

The Weeknd finishes fourth among the year’s top R&B/hip-hop acts, due in part by the 10 charted hits on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart throughout the year. The singer closes out the year with the No. 1 debut of his latest album Starboy, which tops both the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop charts (dated Dec. 17). While that album’s chart run will factor into the 2017 chart year (as the 2016 chart year ran from the charts dated Dec. 5, 2015 through Nov. 26, 2016), its hit title track did factor into the 2016 chart year, since it hit our lists in September.

Elsewhere, Rae Sremmurd rounds out the 2016 chart year as the top duo or group, partly due to the pair’s chart-topping “Black Beatles,” featuring Gucci Mane. The track, which was released on the deluxe version of the act’s sophomore set, SremmLife 2 (released August 12), soared to the top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Billboard Hot 100 charts facilitated by the track’s inclusion in videos contributing to the viral “mannequin challenge” meme.

Prince’s death on April 21 caused spikes in sales of the artist’s extensive catalog, putting him atop the list of R&B/Hip-Hop catalog acts this year. The Very Best Prince, originally released in 2001, finishes 2016 as the year-end No. 1 Top R&B/Hip-Hop Catalog Album.

Billboard’s year-end music recaps are based on chart performance between the Dec. 5, 2015 and Nov. 26, 2016 charts. Data registered before or after a title's chart run are not considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are compiled independently by Nielsen Music.

Billboard Year in Music 2016

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