Rap originated in the Bronx in the 1970s and has grown into one of the most popular musical forms in the world. In 2017, R&B/Hip-Hop became the most listened to genre according to Nielsen Music. (The terms “rap” and “hip-hop” are often used interchangeably, but technically the former refers to the music while the latter is a broader cultural idiom encompassing music, dance, fashion, deejaying, and more.)
As rap has evolved and matured, both the sound and its stars have changed tremendously, but some older artists have managed to stay relevant. This year’s Super Bowl halftime show, for instance, featured rap icons like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Eminem, all still recording, performing, and influencing others – though they may hit the top of the charts less frequently than they once did. (Check out the birth names of 40 rap and hip-hop artists.)
To determine which rappers have had the most hits in the course of their careers, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from Billboard’s Hot 100 charts. Rappers were ranked based on the total number of their songs appearing on the Hot 100, either as main artist or featured artist, through the week of Jan. 15, 2022. The biggest song for each artist, which does not include feature appearances, was determined by a custom scoring wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point.
The majority of hit songs by rappers on this list were released in the past two decades. In 2012, Billboard changed the way it determines chart rankings and started incorporating digital download sales and streaming data in the ranking. This new method has opened the way for many younger rappers to chart hits through digital music consumption.
Many big names from earlier days, like Outkast, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, and Wu-Tang Clan, do not make the list despite critical acclaim and their endurance in pop culture because they were not among the top 35 in terms of charted hits. Certain rappers, though, like the one that tops this list, seem to have modern hitmaking down to a science, often finding a winning formula by combining rap with other musical genres – even country. (Rap and otherwise, these are the artists with the most No. 1 hits.)
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