Just FYI, for all of the R&B, hip hop and straight up rap we had in our aural universe last year, not a single person of color had a number one hit. No Robin Thicke, in all his gropey ass glory, doesn’t count. No black artist had a top #1 Billboard hit, for the first time in over 50 years. I’m not sure what to think about this, but I hadn’t heard it reported anywhere, so I wanted to make a note of it. Cultural appropriation isn’t cool guys. (via Colorlines)
3 thoughts on “2013 First Time In 56 Years No Black Artist Had A #1 Single.”
Interesting. This made me look up and find out Bruno Mars wasn’t black, which I thought he was. There were 4 #1 singles with black “featured performances” on them, but indeed no #1 with a black main artist. Looking back on 2012, there were no less than 5 singles with black leads including 2 singles by Rihanna, 2 by Flo Rida and “Sexy and I know it” by LMFAO. None of them released new albums this year. Rihanna, in particular, has been a #1 single machine. She did in fact make an appearance in the #1 for 2013 list as a featured performer on “The Monster” by Eminem.
I’ve been watching the charts carefully for almost 20 years. I’ve certainly noticed a lot about why things peak. I honestly think this has less to do with cultural appropriation and more to do with this year simply being kind of an anomaly in the black musician world. The heavy black hitters in terms of hit singles like Flo Rida, Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas, R. Kelly and Lil Wayne were relatively inactive last year in terms of releasing big singles. “Yeezus” did not live up to Kanye’s usual standard of commercial excellence, either. Besides that, the public is getting pretty tired of hard nosed rappers and more interested in the beat makers behind them, hence more empty, over commercially produced pop like Miley and Pink and Blurred Lines taking #1. Artists that are basically set pieces in a larger showcase of producers. Not to mention the fact that the Harlem Shake was #1 for a whole month. It also pays to remember #1s don’t necessarily mean you’re good. They mean you peak higher than others at a given time. Jay-Z and Beyonce both released albums that could have spawned #1 singles this year, but they both marketed them in a last minute whirlwind, precisely the opposite of how other hitmakers do it these days where you focus 100% on the single. Although neither scored a #1 single, both of those complete albums were in the top ten selling albums last year, as was Drake’s latest set.
This was a good year for white rappers what with The Heist topping the charts all over the place and Eminem’s triumphant return. I’d like to address that, and I don’t think this is a case of cultural appropriation or racism. The Heist is an excellent record with a message that has been missing from just about all commercial rap. The various academies are not pelting Mackelmore with awards because he’s white. They’re pelting him with these awards because he’s politically charged with the issues that stir the academy these days such as poverty and equal rights for the LGBTQ community, and put those issues together with catchy, radio friendly tunes that everyone can hum along to. Mackelmore peaked heavy this year. Let’s see if he has staying power. Eminem? Well, Eminem is Eminem. Eminem is the best selling rapper of all time, lyrically there are questionably few that surpass him and he knows a radio hook when he hears it. He also knows that Rihanna gets #1s, so he collaborated with her again.
That being said, I think next year will be different. Many of the aforementioned absentees have stuff lined up for 2014 and there’s approximately zero chance Rihanna isn’t scoring a #1 when her new album drops. Ditto R. Kelly, if he completes his new record by the end of the year. He can pee on as many teenagers as he wants and people will eat up his new singles. Black musicians have already broken the slump, as the #1 song on the billboard hot 100 right now is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Pharrell appeared as a featured artist on “Blurred Lines”, and of course spent last year drowning in a pile of money generated by his involvement with not only that single, but his work with Daft Punk.
I wrote way more than I thought I would, but I’m a real billboard chart nut and I love analyzing the why’s and how’s of this kind of thing. If I cared any more I’d analyze a bit each of the #1s this year and try to see why they peaked when they did, but 5 paragraphs is enough for now.
Interesting. I don’t really follow music trends all that much, but I wonder what that’s about. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on it.
That is interesting. I don’t follow the charts enough to have ever put that together on my own. I wonder what 2014 will bring…????