Billboard has been charting “Hot Rap Songs” since 1989, the same year the Grammys first recognized rap as a legitimate art form and not just a passing trend (even if “Parents Just Don’t Understand” somehow beat “Push It”). Since then, Drake holds the record for most number one (15) and top 10 (55) hits, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis the most consecutive weeks at number one (29, for “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us”), and Missy Elliott, Iggy Azalea, and Drake are in a tie for songs with the most weeks at number one (18).
Here’s a brief history, courtesy of Billboard.
Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs chart is a weekly 25-position list that made its debut on March 11, 1989 as a sales-based chart, then known as Hot Rap Singles. In 2002, the chart was replaced with Hot Rap Tracks, based on radio audience impressions monitored by Nielsen Music. The chart added digital downloads and streaming data into its formula in 2012 and was renamed Hot Rap Songs. (Via)
That’s the thing about the Hot Rap Songs chart. It connects Public Enemy to Iggy Azalea, Notorious B.I.G. to Lil’ Bow Wow, Snow to Ice Cube. For no other reason than it’s a cool idea, Billboard and Polygraph collaborated on an interactive timeline of every #1 rap song from 1989-2015. It’s an informative time-waster, and a fun way of hearing how rap has changed the years. The one thing that remains the same: Vanilla Ice’s popularity.
It was regrettable then, it’s regrettable now. Here’s the timeline.