Cardi B, success story of 2017, stands poised to topple Taylor Swift as the artist with the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
If “Bodak Yellow” were to top the chart, it would be the first time a solo female rapper has done so since Lauryn Hill debuted at No. 1 in 1998 with “Doo Wop (That Thing).” Yes, that’s a 19-year gap. She’s done this without a label (“Bodak Yellow” dropped before Cardi B signed to Atlantic; the song’s rise has been all organic from day one), without a feature from another top artist, and without a gimmick, just pure hustle, and the heartfelt support of fans that just happened to include some of the biggest celebrities around, like Idris Elba and Janet Jackson.
Let’s think about that for a second.
In the time since Hill topped the chart, Missy Elliott dropped six studio albums, including Under Construction, which contained her most successful hit to date, “Work It.” Somehow, “Work It” only ever made in to No. 2 on the Hot 100.
In that time, Lil Kim released three albums (sorry, but we’re not counting Ms. GOAT, Black Friday, or Lil Kim Season here), and the closest she got was No. 2 as well, albeit with a tremendous boost from 50 Cent on “Magic Stick.”
Nicki Minaj, currently reigning queen of the charts in hip-hop, hit No. 2 as well with “Anaconda.” Hate it or love it, Nicki’s most popular song by far featured an interpolation of a rap classic, piggybacking off the 20 year-old popularity of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”
So far, it seems a solo female rapper has only ever been “good enough” for No. 2. We won’t get into all the reasons why (but come on, it should be pretty obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of hip-hop history and American culture), but it’s been a black mark on the culture.