Rap Songs Account for Half the Billboard Hot 100's Top 10 for First Time Since 2013
On the latest Billboard Hot 100 (dated May 6), Kendrick Lamar's "Humble." rules at No. 1 and oversees a raptastic top 10: For the first time in four years, half of the Hot 100's top 10 hits for the week are rap songs.
In addition to "Humble.," rap -- defined as songs that also qualify for Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart -- also claims four additional spots in the top tier with Lamar's "DNA." (No. 4); Future's "Mask Off" (No. 5); Kyle's "iSpy," featuring Lil Yachty (No. 6); and Lil Uzi Vert's "XO Tour LIif3" (No. 10).
The last time five rap songs charted in the Hot 100's top 10 was May 4, 2013 -- four years ago to the week. As with Lamar on the current Hot 100 chart, the 2013 list also boasted an act, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, that owned both of the highest-charting rap songs. Their "Can't Hold Us," featuring Ray Dalton, was No. 2 on that week's ranking, while "Thrift Shop" cashed in at No. 3. (Both songs had previously reached No. 1.) PSY's "Gentleman," meanwhile, placed at No. 5, while Pitbull's "Feel This Moment," featuring Christina Aguilera, claimed No. 9. Drake's "Started From the Bottom" rounded out the bracket at No. 10.
Notably, comparing the two lists reveals a sonic difference between the types of rap hits popular at each time. The five songs from 2013 showed a favoring of pop-leaning rap songs built on catchy hooks largely by established acts at pop radio. (Pitbull's "Moment," for instance, borrows the instrumental hook of a-ha's 1985 No. 1 "Take on Me," while sporting Aguilera's vocals.) At the time, both Macklemore & Lewis' "Hold" and "Shop" had completed runs at No. 1 on the Pop Songs airplay chart -- which encompasses radio play on mainstream top 40 stations -- while Pitbull and Drake had earned seven and four top 10 hits on the same airplay tally, respectively.
The five rap tracks present in the Hot 100's top 10 this week, however, are from core rap acts with lesser track records at pop radio: Of the five songs, Kyle's "iSpy," featuring Lil Yachty, has performed the highest on the Pop Songs airplay chart, reaching a comparatively modest No. 19 to date. This time around, rap hits have surged to popularity through on-demand streaming platforms and viral challenges that have spread on social media, with two tunes in particular -- Future's "Mask Off" and Lil Uzi Vert's "XO Tour LIif3" -- benefiting from traction from their respective #MaskOffChallenge and #LilUziVertChallenges.