The Year in R&B/Hip-Hop 2015: Drake & The Weeknd Dominate

Drake performing in 2015.
Getty Images

Drake performing in 2015.

Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop charts were largely governed by a handful of superstar acts in 2015, led by Drake and The Weeknd, while also making way for emerging artists, including Fetty Wap, Silento and Rae Sremmurd. Chart veterans like D’Angelo and Janet Jackson made big comebacks, as newcomers such as iLoveMemphis hit the charts with viral hits.

The Year in Music 2015: See All the Billboard Charts

Drake takes the trophy as the top R&B/Hip-Hop artist of the year. The rapper started out the beginning of 2015 with a chart-topping surprise album, If You’re Reading This Its Too Late. The set tops the year-end list of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

Enjoying his best chart year yet, The Weeknd (the No. 2 top R&B/Hip-Hop artist) had huge crossover hits “The Hills,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” and “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey),” with the tracks finishing up the year at Nos. 4, 5, and 6 tracks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs recap, respectively. Earlier in 2015, the singer celebrated 12 concurrently charting songs on the weekly version of the list, the most ever for a non-rapper.

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The breakout story of the year was top new R&B/Hip-Hop artist Fetty Wap (the No. 3 top R&B/Hip-Hop artist), who lit up the charts with his single “Trap Queen” and his self-titled debut album. “Trap Queen” finishes 2015 as the No. 2 title on the year-end Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs tally, while he also claims the No. 7 title with “679.”

The No. 4 top R&B/Hip-Hop artist is also the year’s top female act: Nicki Minaj. Her The Pinkpint (released in December of 2014) rules as the No. 4 Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album of the year, while she claims five tracks in the top 40 of the year-end Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

Viral hits continued to find big success on the charts -- oftentimes with a YouTube-ready dance move backing up the tune. Silento’s “Watch Me” spent seven nonconsecutive weeks at No. 2 on the weekly Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and closes out 2015 at No. 3 on the year-end tally.  It was bested only by Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” at No. 2, and Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” at No. 1. The latter cut, from the Furious 7 film, spent a whopping 14 weeks at No. 1 on the weekly Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

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Another dance-inspired hit was born when iLoveMemphis arrived in August with “Hit The Quan.” Aided largely by user-generated uploads, it quickly reached the weekly top 10 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, allowing it to close 2015 at No. 29 on the year-end list.

D’Angelo returned to the charts after a 15-year absence, thanks to his album Black Messiah (with The Vanguard). It finishes 2015 as the No. 12 Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album. A few steps below D’Angelo is another returning veteran, Janet Jackson, with her first independently distributed album, Unbreakable. The latter was the diva’s 11th studio album, and first since 2008. The set’s lead single, “No Sleeep,” featuring J. Cole, ends the year at No. 10 on the Adult R&B Songs tally.

Finally, after nearly 16 years, Dr. Dre came back to the album charts with Compton. The set, released in August, marked his first new album since 1999’s Dr. Dre -- 2001. Compton opened at No. 1 on the weekly Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, spend a total of three weeks atop the tally, and closes out the year at No. 8 on the year-end list.

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