For the first time, Billboard has compiled extensive all-time chart recaps of R&B/hip-hop music, ranking the genre’s top artists, songs and albums over the past six decades (see chart methodology below).
The Temptations are the top all-time artist, thanks to the soul group’s success since the 1960s, with the ensemble having tallied a record 16 No. 1s on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart (which began in 1965) and 14 leaders on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (which dates to 1958), including its longest-leading hit single, the eight-week No. 1 “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” in 1966. The act scored 43 top 10s, including in each decade from the ’60s through the ’90s.
Aretha Franklin is the No. 2 artist (and top female), followed by Stevie Wonder (top male) at No. 3, with the two icons sharing the record for the most leaders – 20 each – on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. James Brown (No. 4) and Michael Jackson (No. 5) round out the artist list’s top five.
Jackson’s landmark LP Thriller leads the all-time albums recap, having spent a record 37 weeks at No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums in 1983-84. The Black Eyed Peas‘ 2009 set The E.N.D. ranks at No. 2 and Jackson’s Off the Wall, from 1979, places at No. 3. Capping the top five are Whitney Houston‘s self-titled 1985 debut (No. 4) and M.C. Hammer‘s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (No. 5), the top rap album.
As for the top all-time R&B/hip-hop songs, Mary J. Blige‘s “Be Without You” boasts the No. 1 position, powered by its 15-week reign on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in 2006. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘ debut smash “Thrift Shop” (featuring Wanz), a 14-week Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs topper in 2013, follows at No. 2 – and is the highest-ranking rap title – while Usher‘s 11-week 1997 No. 1 “You Make Me Wanna…” places third. At Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, are Marvin Gaye‘s “Sexual Healing” (No. 1 for 10 weeks in 1982-83) and Deborah Cox‘s “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” (No. 1, 14 weeks, 1998-99).
METHODOLOGY: The Greatest of All-Time Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists, Songs and Albums rankings are based on weekly performance on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (from its Oct. 20, 1958 inception through Feb. 25, 2017) and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (from its Jan. 30, 1965 inception through Feb. 25, 2017). Songs and Albums are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower spots earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates over various periods. Artists are ranked based on a formula blending performance, as outlined above, of all their Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart entries.