On the Charts, Drake Is Bigger Than All of Rock & Roll
“If I ain’t the greatest, then I’m headed for it,” Drake rapped on 2014’s “0 to 100.” Four years later, he’s lived up to his word. Though numerous tracks of his have broken chart records in the past, it’s the rapper’s double album Scorpion, which dropped in late June, that allowed him to claim the most comprehensive victory of his career: close to an entire third of the Billboard Hot 100.
Drake charted an unprecedented 27 songs on the Hot 100 list this week, according to figures updated Tuesday morning. He beat his own record of 24 simultaneous Hot 100 hits – achieved in April 2017 with the debut of his More Life LP – and also the record for most concurrent Hot 100 hits by an artist, ever, in the decades-spanning history of Billboard’s chart. Looking at the Hot 100, the feat gets all the more staggering: Drake’s dominance of the chart isn’t spread out evenly, but solidly clustered in the upper half. He has seven songs in the Top 10 alone – breaking another record previously held by the Beatles with five simultaneous Top 10 hits – and his other songs chart between Number 13 and 57.
Having one-third of the chart all to himself means the rapper is bigger this week than several entire genres – like rock & roll, which has only about a dozen songs on the chart. Rock recently ended its historic streak as America’s most popular music genre, ceding the throne to hip-hop and R&B. But it still has 23 percent of the nation’s audience, according to Nielsen’s recently released mid-year report. Rap songs outperforming rock tracks on the Hot 100 is expected in 2018; for a single artist to outnumber the genre, though, speaks to the specific, ingenious mass-market appeal of Drake.
And to his business sense. Drake’s supremacy on the Hot 100 was made easier by the popularity of music streaming. Because streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music charge a buffet-style monthly fee to listen to music rather than a per-song price à la iTunes downloads, long albums benefit artists by giving them more chances to rack up listens. Drake also partnered with Spotify for an all-out “takeover” of the platform in the days after his album dropped, which forced tens of millions of users to encounter his album. (They weren’t required to actually stream it – but the all-you-can-listen model of streaming services made it appealing and cost-free to do so, and the real estate on their homepage contributed to the average listener’s awareness Scorpion.)
The strategic efforts paid off: Every single one of Scorpion’s 25 tracks appears on the Hot 100 chart this week alongside BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive” (featuring Drake) and Lil Baby and Drake’s “Yes Indeed,” propelling Drake to the unsurpassed 27-song victory.