What finally got hip-hop to the top of the Billboard charts?
Listen to Episode 17 of Slate’s Hit Parade:
In Hit Parade’s “Def Jams Edition,” we told you about rap’s first wave in the ’80s. But in this sequel (don’t believe the hype!) we enter the ’90s with still no No. 1 rap hits on the Hot 100—even though the music was starting to dominate both streets and stores: from conscious rappers like Public Enemy, to gangstas like N.W.A, to left-field innovators like De La Soul. It would take Billboard rebooting its charts in 1991—tallying record sales more accurately than ever with SoundScan data—for rap to get a fair shake on the charts. That boosted a new wave of crossover acts, from P.M. Dawn to Arrested Development to Sir Mix-a-Lot. But rap’s elders were not entirely thrilled at these new chart-toppers … and some rappers literally bum-rushed the show.