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Hip-Hop Out-Charted Pop By 227 Weeks in 2017

It may come as no surprise, but hip-hop was the most popular genre of music in 2017, by an impressive margin. It was reported earlier in th...

Hip-Hop Out-Charted Pop By 227 Weeks in 2017

It may come as no surprise, but hip-hop was the most popular genre of music in 2017, by an impressive margin. It was reported earlier in the year by Nielsen Soundscan that Hip-Hop had become the most consumed genre in the United States, and with the benefit of an entire 12 months of Billboard charts, it can be confirmed it is now comprehensively  the most popular genre.

Total Weeks Spent Inside Billboard Top 20

Hip-Hop spent 744 weeks inside the Billboard top 20 in 2017, out of a possible 2080 weeks (20 positions per week, multiplied by 52 weeks, multiplied by 2 for albums and songs). That’s an impressive 35.76%! It wasn’t huge one-off records that created this chart dominance, it was longevity from a number of releases that consistently delivered sales over the course of the year. Post Malone’s Stoney was the most consistent record of the year, spending 48 weeks inside the top 20, and finishing 2017 at number 10 on the Billboard 200 album charts. DAMN. and Culture also enjoyed extended runs; DAMN. has spent 34 consecutive weeks inside the top 20, while Migos’ Culture added 28 weeks to Hip-Hop’s chart run.

Post Malone also contributed heavily with “Congratulations” featuring Quavo, which spent 19 consecutive weeks in the top 20 of the Hot 100 chart. This was bettered by French Montana’s most successful single to date, “Unforgettable”, which stuck around for 23 weeks, peaking at number 3.

While these Hot 100 chart runs are impressive, both Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars experienced longer periods inside the top 20 of the singles chart. “Shape Of You” by Sheeran achieved 39 weeks, “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars enjoyed 36 weeks, “Despacito” and its accompanying remix were in the top 20 for 29 weeks, and Imagine Dragons’ “Believer” stuck around for 28 weeks.

Yet despite these huge Pop, Rock, R&B and Reggaeton anthems, Hip-Hop prevailed by 227 weeks.

A special mention must go to SZA, who experienced a really incredible year on the back of her album CTRL. The album spent 19 weeks inside the Billboard Top 20, which represents 13.2% of all R&B albums inside the top 20 of the Billboard 200. She has also spent 12 consecutive weeks in the Hot 100 top 20 courtesy of her collaboration with Maroon 5, "What Lovers Do".

Weeks Spent Inside Billboard Top 10 (Albums + Singles)

Almost 50% of the weeks that Hip-Hop spent inside the top 20 came from songs and albums inside the top 10. DAMN. was prolific at 24 weeks, and “Bodak Yellow” had real staying power, hovering inside the top 10 for 17 weeks. Again, individual Pop and R&B releases had longer runs, mainly through Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, but Hip-Hop was more consistent across a wider variety of albums and songs.

Weeks Spent On Top of Billboard Charts

Hip-Hop’s reign at number 1 in 2017 is unprecedented this decade. 6 tracks in total have topped the Billboard Hot 100 this year, 3 times more than the next most prolific years, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

35 weeks in total (out of a possible 104) have seen a Hip-Hop song or album on top of the Billboard charts, compared with 29 in 2016. Both DAMN. and More Life spent 3 weeks at the pinnacle of the Billboard 200, equalling  Taylor Swift’s figure, though it was The Weeknd’s Starboy that dominated the number 1 position on the album charts, spending 5 weeks at the top.

The diversity of the rap songs that made it to number 1 on the Hot 100 in 2017 proves there isn't a uniform sound or subgenre that is more popular or relevant. "Bodak Yellow" by Cardi B features a lot of bars, double-time flows, and even shots at people turning up to nightclubs without being paid. That's something Rae Sremmurd wouldn't consider doing, as their number 1 single "Black Beatles" was a chart smash partly because of its vibe and nightclub appeal (not to mention the mannequin challenge).

"rockstar" relies on a vibe too, but it is a little more downtrodden. While the lyrics are worthy of the American Dream, the aesthetic is less euphoric. On the absolute opposite end of the spectrum is "I'm The One" by DJ Khaled, featuring Bieber, Chance, Quavo and Wayne. A summer anthem with a stretchy bass and a tropical house vibe.

"Bad & Boujee" is a little bit of the above rolled into one. The chorus is anthemic, Quavo and Offset drop bars, the vibe is chilled, and the flow is progressive.
Finally, there is "Humble", proof lyricism and deep content still has a place on the charts, and political and social messages can sneak into the club if delivered in the right way. 

2016 vs. 2017

Hip-Hop’s dominance in 2017 is made more impressive by the huge chart turnaround it experienced between 2016 and 2017. While 2016 wasn’t completely sparse for the genre, big-ticket releases were harder to come by. J. Cole, Kanye West, Drake and Kendrick all dropped projects, but only two singles performed particularly well on the Hot 100, being “Panda” by Desiigner and “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane.

This was reflected in the charts. Here is the passing of the “most popular genre” baton, visualized:

Hip-Hop was just part of the pack in 2016. R&B outcharted it inside both the top 10 and top 20 (albums and singles). In 2017, it flew to new heights, dominating every other genre.

Is this a permanent turn in fortune for Hip-Hop in America? It’s possible this will continue into 2018. Taylor Swift’s reputation and accompanying singles haven’t had nearly the impact she has had in the past. Eminem’s Revival just dropped, and while 19.5% of that album is pop, it’s still a rap record, and it will start 2018 off at number 1, ensuring Hip-Hop begins the next 12 months at the top of the Billboard charts.

With Kanye teasing new music, Metro Boomin continuing at his frenetic pace, Post Malone’s project on the horizon, and a new Migos record, 2018 could conceivably continue to solidify Hip-Hop as the most popular genre in America.

By The Numbers: "Untouchable" Is More Political Than Any Prior Eminem Album

When Eminem took aim at Donald Trump during his October 2017 BET Cypher, opinion pieces sprung up, fans reacted on Twitter in their droves, and speculation about the subject matter of his new album was leaning towards a fired-up, pissed off Eminem/Marshall Mathers/Slim Shady that would lyrically destroy Trump and anyone else he felt was deserving on a grand scale.

And with "Untouchable" dropping a week before the record, Eminem ensured that Revival would be his most political album of all time. That song featured 133 political lines, compared to 104 on the entirety of Encore, and just 13 on his previous album, Marshall Mathers LP2.

However, apart from "Like Home", he barely touched on political or social matters on the rest of the record. While some fans were hoping for a reprise of tracks like "Mosh" or "White America", they were treated instead to huge pop tracks and goofy punchlines.

Compared to its contemporaries just how political was Revival?

This analysis counts the number of line in each song, then the total number of those lines that are devoted to a political or social message. This gives each song, and thus each album, a "political percentage".

These are the mainstream records from 2016 and 2017 that have featured the highest percentage of political content. Much of the narrative surrounding Revival was devoted to speculation he might create his own version of Jay's 4:44, a mature look at the social and political landscape in North America in 2017. Both Jay and Eminem are at similar points in their career: mid-to-late 40s, 20+ years since their first albums, unmatched commercial success. And with "Untouchable", the BET Cypher, and 2016's "Campaign Speech", it felt like Eminem might use his frustration at Trump and those associated with him to create a scorching political record.

It didn't happen, and while Logic sits below Eminem on this list, that's thanks to the rambling outros he added to most of his tracks on Everybody, pushing up the number of lines per song, thus reducing that political percentage.

Should we be surprised at Eminem's lack of political content?

Eminem Isn't Traditionally A Political Rapper

Only songs on the standard edition of an album are counted, so "We As Americans" isn't included, just as tracks like "Don't Front" or "Elevator" aren't.

During the Bush administration in the early-mid 2000s, Eminem was passionate enough to lyrically take aim at the Government. In 2004 he was on the cover of Rolling Stone, saying: "[Bush] has been painted to be this hero, and he's got our troops over there dying for no reason... I think he started a mess... We got young people over there dyin', kids in their teens, early twenties that should have futures ahead of them. And for what?"

This led to some of his most charged political content. During "Mosh" he advocated revolution, highlighting the danger of brainwashing people from a young age via "pyschological warfare" and by trying to "trick us to thinkin' that we ain't loyal". In an interesting piece of foreshadowing, this is similar to how Colin Kapernick has been treated by certain groups of people after refusing to stand for the national anthem in 2017. Eminem would reference this in the BET Cypher from October 2016.

"White America" was a musing on the importance of his own race with regards to his success. He states "if I was black, I would have sold half",  and then uses the outro to criticise conservative politicians, notably Lynne Cheney and Tipper Gore. He didn't go as far as to tell certain political groups to stop listening to his music, as he would with the BET Cypher in 2017, but he wasn't being complimentary of those groups in any way, shape, or form.

Eminem's Most Aggressive Political Messages Have Been Saved For Bonus Tracks or Loosies

Both "We As Americans" and "Campaign Speech" have featured violent political content. In 2004 he rapped:

I'd rather see the President {dead}
It's never been said, but I set precedents

The "dead" was censored on all official releases. There were reports at the time that Eminem was being investigated by the Secret Service over the line, but if something came of it, it was behind closed doors.

On 2016's "Campaign Speech" he was again violent:

Run the faucet, I'mma dunk
A bunch of Trump supporters underwater

And on 2017's "BET Cypher":

That's an awfully hot coffee pot
Should I drop it on Donald Trump? Probably not
But that's all I got 'til I come up with a solid plot

Got a plan and now I gotta hatch it

These tracks were some of the most political of his career.

The majority of Eminem's songs aren't political

While one-off tracks exist that feature a large percentage of political content, it's a tiny amount when his entire discography is taken into account.

Should Revival have been more politically-based? Would it have made a difference to the quality of the project? Running a correlation analysis on the critical reception of each Eminem album vs. the political percentage shows there is no major relationship between critical reception and political content, and this can be dealt with on a qualitative level as well. Most agree The Eminem Show is in his top 3 albums, but Encore wasn't nearly of the same quality, and those are his two most politically-motivated records before Revival, so there doesn't appear to be a correlation between quality and political content.

Lil Wayne's Mixtape Remixes Have Coincided With 325 Dropped Places on the Hot 100

When Dedication 6 drops on Christmas Day, hip-hop fans will be desperate to hear the fabled "Mixtape Weezy", a persona he hasn't regularly inhabited since the late 2000s.

But what is this "Mixtape Weezy", and how did he manage to (somewhat) confirm the illustrious title of "Best Rapper Alive" that he so bullishly applied for in December 2005 on his 5th solo LP Tha Carter II?

It was the Dedication series, of which there have been 5 instalments, that introduced Lil Wayne as "the rapper eater", an emcee in such rare form that he would take the hottest songs on the Billboard charts and lyrically assassinate rappers over their own beats.

But was a Lil Wayne remix a blessing or a curse for the original song?

Wayne Mixtapes Have Coincided with 325 Dropped Places on the Billboard Hot 100

Wayne liked to skate over the hottest beats on the charts at the time, and over the course of 10 major mixtapes from 2006-2015, tracks that he rapped over dropped a staggering 325 places on the Billboard Hot 100 after he released his version of the song.

The analysis looks at the chart position of a song Weezy jacked the week before the mixtape dropped, and then the chart position 3 weeks after the mixtape was released, and compared the two numbers.

NOTE: This analysis deals with a correlation, not a causation. It's very difficult to definitively say "Lil Wayne was the reason these songs dropped chart positions", even with all the data that exists. There are many other factors, many of them qualitative, that determine the chart position of a song. However, as you'll see, songs have dropped significantly more chart positions than they've gained when Wayne remixes them.

Which Songs Suffered The Worst?

Wayne's versions of these songs coincided with huge chart fall-offs. "Pop My Collar" by Three 6 Mafia had spent 12 solid weeks in the chart before Dedication 2 dropped, with Wayne's "Poppin' Them Bottles" alongside Young Money signee Curren$y and perennial feature artist and label head Mack Maine. The track lost 39 places in 3 weeks.

Three 6 Mafia weren't alone. Whilst tracks like "Run The World (Girls)" by Beyonce were already heading towards the end of their chart run, Wayne arrested some tracks ascent and turned it around. "Throw Some D's" by Rich Boy, which entered the chart in late 2006, was ascending comfortably, peaking at number 6 three weeks before Da Drought 3 dropped. It then entered freefall, leaving the entire chart 4 weeks later.

Other songs, like Mims' "This is Why I'm Hot", which Weezy used as part of the intro to 2007's Da Drought 3, dropped out of the top 10 entirely after the remix. This same fate was suffered by "What You Know" by T.I., "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas, and "Run This Town" by Jay-Z, Kanye and Rihanna.

Which Artist Has Suffered The Most Chart Position Drops At The Hands of Wayne?

An uncharacteristic example of friendly-fire. Wayne signed Drake to Young Money back in 2009, and he might be hesitant in handing beats over to his boss if he ever reads this article. 38 dropped places on the Billboard Hot 100 have coincided with Lil Wayne remixing Drake's tracks, slightly more than Beyoncé, her husband Jay-Z, and frequent Wayne collaborator Future.

What Era Was Wayne At His Most Devastating? 

The "Mixtape Weezy" era is usually defined as December 2015 to 2009, or, from Tha Carter II till Wayne fronted up for prison in 2010. Some claim Wayne hasn't been the same since, but was there a difference between his two major eras? 

Wayne was more devastating during his pre-prison run.

Chart Positions Dropped Per-Mixtape

Da Drought 3 has been the most detrimental to hot beats, accounting for 96 dropped Hot 100 places. Unsurprisingly, Dedication 2 comes second. Dedication had no associated chart drops, while Dedication 3 and Dedication 4 were also quite tame. 

These Are Correlations, Not Causations

It's useful to remember again that there are other factors involved in the dropping of chart positions. Many tracks, like Mims' "This Is Why I'm Hot" and Beyonce's "Upgrade U" suffered chart fortune turn-arounds as soon as Wayne dropped his remix, in fact there were 13 songs (out of 46 in this analysis) that were climbing the charts before Wayne came through.

Mims: "This Is Why I'm Hot"
Shawnna: "Gettin' Some"
Beyonce and Jay-Z: "Upgrade U"
T.I.: "Top Back"
Jeezy and R. Kelly: "Go Getta"
Robin Thicke: "Lost Without U"
Gucci Mane: "Wasted"
Mario, Gucci Mane, Sean Garrett: "Break Up"
Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna: "Run This Town"
Meek Mill, Drake: "Amen"
Lil Wayne, Big Sean: "My Homies Still"
Dej Loaf: "Try Me"
ILOVEMAKONNEN, Drake: "Tuesday"

Did Any Artist Actually Get A Boost From Wayne's Remixes?

Not every song Wayne rapped over fell down the charts. His remixes coincided with 115 chart position gains, which is a third of the chart position drops. 

Who got the biggest chart boost from Lil Wayne? Lil Wayne!! His verse on DJ Khaled's "We Takin'; Over", which also featured Fat Joe, Rick Ross, Birdman, T.I. and Akon, was likely one that introduced him to a widespread audience. The track peaked at number 28 on the Hot 100, but Wayne's stream of consciousness, an effortless laureate-like description of things that might have just been in the booth with him while recording, was the birth of the rapper eater. He devoured his collaborators on that song. 

Will the next batch of remixes illicit the same chart results? It's already been confirmed Wayne has jumped on Kendrick's "DNA" (not in the charts anymore) and 21 Savage's "Bank Account" (27th). Will Wayne ruin some more chart runs? Or will he lift the songs he remixes even higher? 

By The Numbers: Eminem Has Become a Pop-Rapper

When the tracklist for Eminem's 2017 album Revival came laden with 7 different pop guest artists, hot takes littered the internet. The sound and direction of Revival seemed at odds with his 2017 BET Cypher, in which he waged war against US president Donald Trump in a lyrical display that called back to the time when Eminem was often spoken of as one of the greatest rappers alive.

Now that the album has dropped, it appears Eminem is attempting the transition from rap purist to a rock/pop/rap hybrid that he was lyrically dismantling as recently as 2009 on Relapse's lead single "We Made You". What makes this transition more jarring is the direct correlation between waning critical review scores and the steady addition of pop music to his solo albums.

What's even more confusing is this exchange with Zane Lowe in 2013 while promoting his solo LP Marshall Mathers LP 2

Eminem: "I don't feel like I ever set out to make a pop song, or a song that was gonna be some kind of crossover song or whatever."

As we'll see, the evidence points to Eminem setting out on this pop-star path as early as 2010's Recovery.

Revival's Pop Status

Eminem enlisted 7 pop stars to provide hooks on Revival. This is more than double the number he employed on Recovery, more than triple he used on MMLP2, and 7 times the amount he used on all 5 of his first major solo albums combined (SSLP, MMLP, The Eminem Show, Encore, Relapse). 

Revival is the first Eminem album not to feature a verse from another rapper. Phresher turns up on "Chloroseptic" to provide a hook and a weird post-chorus duet with Em, but he doesn't spit a verse.

19.5% of Revival is pop, either through Eminem singing, or his popstar guests providing hooks, bridges, and verses.

Tracking Eminem's Transition to Pop-Rap

It can be argued that Eminem's early commercial success elevated him to pop-rapper, but his stratospheric singles "My Name Is", "The Real Slim Shady" and "Without Me" were all caricatures of the pop landscape at the time. In 2013 he told Zane Lowe "My Name Is" was an "anti-pop song... it was my hello to the world but also my fuck you to the world". This attitude prevailed through his first 5 major label records, and it wasn't until 2010's Recovery that pop turned from a source of comedic satire to a source of content and a medium through which Eminem would channel his more uplifting messages.

Eminem's 3 albums this decade have been his most pop-laden, either through himself singing pop-focused hooks and bridges ("Not Afraid", "Seduction", "Stronger Than I Was") or via a revolving door of pop singers specialising in hooks (Pink, Skylar Grey, Beyonce, Rihanna etc).

This embrace of the pop sound has led to some of his lowest critical review scores. The early sentiment surrounding Revival seems to point to a critical hammering when the dust settles, more-so even than Relapse. 

This graphic is more damning. Pop singers have provided 14% of the pop words on Revival, double that of the next highest (MMLP2 and Recovery), and 14x more than The Eminem Show and Slim Shady LP, albums regularly cited as classics in Eminem's catalogue.

No Guest Rap Verses on Revival

This is the first Eminem solo album not to feature a guest verse from another rapper. Phresher drops a hook, but that is it. There were hopes 2 Chainz might make an appearance, but those were scuppered when the tracklist was revealed.

Eminem has slowly been isolating himself from the rap community since 2009's Relapse. His last 4 solo albums have had just 4 rappers providing guest verses.

Does Eminem still spit Bars though?

Fear not. Eminem still raps, and by eschewing guest verses from fellow emcees he has ensured that MMLP2 and Revival have been his most bar-laden records. I'll let you be the judge of whether that's good or bad.

By The Numbers: Pitchfork Review Statistics 2017 (Vs. 2010-2016)

What follows is an analysis of every Pitchfork review published in 2017, current to the 7th of December. As a bonus, I've included a comparison with every review (in which genre is specifically stated) Pitchfork published from 2010-2016, with thanks to Nolan Conaway. Information about the dataset will be listed at the bottom of the article.

This infographic firstly (top left) show the amount of reviews per-genre. Rock dominated 2017, with 385 reviews out of 1169, which is a third. "Global" made up just 2% of the total. The Electronic classification came second with 19%, Rap third with 14%, and surprisingly, Pop/R&B actually came fifth, behind Experimental. Just 10% of Pitchfork's 2017 reviews were Pop/R&B.

Average Review Score in 2017

Jazz experienced the highest average review of the year, with 79.91/100. Rap ran dead last, with the average Rap review scoring 71.23/100.

The temptation is to assume genre's with less total reviews would secure a higher average score, but Experimental, which accounted for 11% of the total reviews, came third, at 74.96, well above Metal, which had just 5% of the total reviews of 2017.

Standard Deviation (Variance in Review Scores)

The standard deviation gives an idea of how scattered the reviews are around the average. A higher standard deviation indicates more varied review scores. Jazz was the most consistent of 2017, while Metal was the most erratic.

Why do Jazz and Global have lower standard deviations?

It's possible that less popular genres in North America, such as Jazz and Global, release fewer relevant (with regards to Pitchfork's audience) records during the year. Because these genres aren't a priority, and don't command as much attention as Rock, Rap, Pop and R&B, reviewers are free to pick and choose what they want to review, naturally gravitating towards artists and groups they like and are familiar with. If a reviewer were to only review albums from artists they like, reviews scores would naturally remain high and consistent. If  a reviewer is covering a record from an artist they don't traditionally enjoy, simply because that record is popular.

Highest and Lowest Scoring Reviews

Pitchfork publishes a number of "classic" reviews, where they go back in time and review a pivotal or important record from the past. They also review albums that have been re-issued, and if an album is being re-issued it's because it was once popular or a cultural touchpoint, and still has commercial value. As such, the top 27 scoring reviews of 2017 are either classic, or reissues. The first new album comes in at 28th; Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. with 92. It's then another 13 reviews before Mount Eerie clocks in at 42 with 90 for their 2017 record A Crow Looked At Me.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ed Sheeran cops the worst review of 2017, a lowly 28/100 (2.8/10) for his world-beating Divide.

And while this seems quite harsh, give a thought to the following albums that suffered an even worse fate in the period 2010-2016:

The Pixies - EP-1: 10/100
Mac Miller - Blue Slide Park: 10/100
Lou Reed and Metallica - Lulu: 10/100
Ghostland Observatory - Codename: Rondo: 15/100
Childish Gambino - Camp: 16/100
The Ting Tings - Sounds from Nowheresville: 18/100
Mumford & Sons - Wilder Mind: 20/100
Jessie J - Who You Are: 20/100
Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More: 21/100
Chiddy Bang - Peanut Butter and Swelly: 21/100

Mumford & Sons got stung twice!

Highest Review Scores:

There were 12 perfect scores in 2017, all classics and reissues:

Bjork - Homogenic
Glenn Gould - Bach: The Goldberg Variations
Metallica - Master of Puppets
Prince - Purple Rain Deluxe Edition
The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready To Die
Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele
X-Ray Spex - Germfree Adolescent
Weezer - Blue Album
Elliot Smith - Either, Or
Radiohead - Ok Computer
Guns n Roses - Appetite for Destruction
The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead

Distribution of Review Scores by Genre (2017)

These graphs plot every single review from each genre in 2017, and the line represents the average review score at that point in time. This gives an idea of the variance, and allows us to view any outliers (like Ed Sheeran). Electronic only suffered 1 low point (from The Chainsmokers), but there are multiple lower outliers on the Pop/R&B distribution, as well as the Rock and Rap charts. It also gives a good idea of the amount of reviews in each genre. Global looks barren when compared with Rock or Electronic.

2017 vs. 2010-2016

The greatest difference between 2017 and the rest of the decade actually occurs in Jazz. Jazz's average review score for 2010-2016 is 71.99, yet it's a muscular 79.91 in 2017.

Rap, Rock and Pop/R&B all fared worse in 2017 than the previous 7 years.

The most stable was Folk/Country, which only experienced a 1.14 point increase in 2017.

Metal, Electronic, Experimental, Global, Folk/Country and Jazz all experienced a less varied review score plot in 2017 compared to the previous 7 years. The most simple explanation is that there is more variance in review scores from 2010 to 2016 than there is in 2017.

About The Dataset

The dataset includes 1169 Pitchfork reviews published in 2017. It also includes 7061 reviews published between 2010 and 2016, every relevant review that had a listed genre.

All classic reviews and reviews of reissues are included.

Huge thanks to Nolan Conaway, who provided the data from 2010-2016. Check out his analysis from June 2017 on Pitchfork's review motivations.

"Pitchfork Roundup! What I found in 1800 Album Reviews"

Any questions, hit me up on here or on Twitter!

By The Numbers: Post Malone Has Out-Charted Every Hip-Hop Lead Artist and Group in 2017

 In 2017, Post Malone has managed to outlast most of his chart challengers, from Kendrick Lamar to Ed Sheeran to Khalid. And while his latest single "rockstar" reveals an affinity for rock heroes, Post's statistics place him firmly in the pop genre, a category he might consider pursuing considering his recent comments on hip-hop

Stoney's 45 Weeks in the Top 20

The concept of a slow-burning hip-hop album doesn't exist in the era of the internet. Albums are announced, hyped, released and forgotten about in a matter of weeks and months. High-profile and high-selling releases can hang around the charts for years to come (Recovery by Eminem has spent 94 weeks in the Billboard 200, while Take Care by Drake has floated around for 174 weeks), but they usually hit high on the charts and slowly descend until they congregate and stew in the bottom 50. 

Post dropped Stoney on December 9, 2016, and it debuted at number 6 on the Billboard 200. It wouldn't hit its peak of number 4 on the chart until October 28, 2017, a full 323 days after release. It sold 58,000 copies first week, and went platinum in April 2017, and double platinum October 19, 2017.

In 2017, it has spent more weeks in the top 20 of the Billboard 200 than any other release. It debuted at number 6 and actually fell to 23rd, then 25th in its second and third weeks on the chart. In the third week of 2017 it hauled itself back to 14th, and didn't leave the top 20 again until its 33rd week, a brief dip before remaining in the top 20 all the way to the chart of December 9th, 2017. A total of  45 weeks, longer than any other record in 2017.

Here is the chart position per-week for every hip-hop album that experienced chart longevity in 2017. Post's Stoney is in pink. His competition is Culture by Migos, DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar, Future by Future, and More Life by Drake. All of those records start in the top 5 and gradually descend over time. Stoney outlasts all of them, experiencing 5 separate spikes throughout 2017. Normally, these spikes would be associated with the release of a high-performing single, but as this article will also show, his main song in 2017 has been "Congratulations", which has experienced a similar chart run to Stoney. "rockstar" has undoubtedly helped the album remain relevant and propelled it back into the top 10, but it's been consistent without the help of regular singles.

More amazing is his performance compared to the major pop albums on the charts in 2017 (Views by Drake might be the closest thing to a hip-hop/pop album by a male rapper). The closest any artist has come to Post's longevity is Ed Sheeran's Divide, which hasn't dipped below 16th since it was released. That record may well outlast Stoney in the long run, but as it stands, Stoney remains undefeated. Post's 5 separate comebacks and spikes may not even be bettered by Ed, though. Divide has had two comebacks, spiking from 14th to 6th and later 16th to 6th.

"Congratulations" (5x Platinum, 20 weeks in Top 20)

"Congratulations", featuring Quavo, has been the linchpin to Post's success in 2017. It dropped in January, and has since been certified 5x platinum, keeping him in the charts and on the radio for the entire year and setting up the chart-topping run of "rockstar". 

"Congratulations" has outlasted the peak of every major hip-hop single in 2017. The pink line was unrelenting, slowly gathering pace and holding its peak for much longer than "Humble", "Bad & Boujee" and "Mask Off", even if those tracks charted higher at their pinnacle. Even Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" ran out of endurance before "Congratulations", which only began to bottom out in its 37th week on the chart. Post's "rockstar" then took over.

This chart isn't exhaustive (an end of year list is to come, and will feature a full breakdown of the most enduring acts of 2017), but it shows Post's performance compared to his peers. Despite having a truly epic year, Kendrick hasn't charted as long or as well as Post, nor has 21 Savage, Migos, or even Drake. Post Malone has achieved these impressive numbers on the back of 3 releases: Stoney, "Congratulations" and "rockstar", all of them as the lead artist. He's spent 7 weeks at number 1 via "rockstar", and has sold a muscular 12.4 million singles and albums throughout the year. His decision to delay his next project Beerbongs & Bentleys may have more to do with the fact he's still doing numbers 12 months on from the release of his last project. 

By The Numbers:Nicki Minaj is the Most Successful Female Rapper Of All Time

Stats can now be found via HipHopNumbers on Twitter

In June 2017, Nicki Minaj claimed in an Instagram post she was the most awarded female rapper in history. That same day she tweeted to her fans asking them to fact-check her claims, and thus far no-one has been able to confirm or deny her place atop female rap. This article will answer that question from a statistical standpoint, as well as revealing who is the most successful female rapper in the following categories:

  • Album sales
  • Single sales
  • Album charts
  • Single charts
  • Critical review
  • Awards and nominations
All of these categories are great measures of success. There are many intangible ways that success can be achieved, but these areas have publicly available numbers that can be gathered and analysed. The rapper who wins the most categories at the end of the article gets crowned the most successful female rapper of all time.

The analysis concerns rappers' solo careers (or, in the case of Salt-n-Pepa, their work within the group), and singles released in which they are the lead or main artist. Lauryn Hill's work with The Fugees isn't included, nor is Foxy Brown's work with The Firm, or Nicki's with Young Money. It's also limited to the United States.

The dataset included 75 female rappers or female rap groups. If you'd like access to the dataset, or need more clarification or information, please message me, I am all too happy to accomodate. 

Album Sales: Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill dominates this section. The bulk of her sales came from her classic debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It has sold an incredible 8 million copies in the US alone. Her live album MTV Unplugged 2.0 contributes another million. 

Nicki slips to fourth, outsold by Salt-n-Pepa and Missy Elliott. This category goes to Lauryn.

Removing the element of "more albums, more sales", this graph listing sales per-album gives a more accurate snapshot of success. Once again, Lauryn wins dramatically.

Singles Sales: Nicki Minaj 

Nicki is well ahead of Iggy. At 31 million single sales, she's more than double her nearest competitor. Lauryn Hill, who won the total album sales, has only moved 1.5 million singles, although it must be remembered she flourished well before the era of streaming. In the late 90s you had to drive to the store and buy a physical copy.

Total sales divided by number of singles released, to control for artists who get a lot of sales by releasing a lot of music. While on average Iggy's singles are more commercially successful, Nicki's longevity must be taken into account. Nicki has released 29 singles, while Iggy has only released 11. Nicki's first 11 singles sold, on average, 1.6 million each, about 400,000 more than Iggy. 

Album Chart Position: Nicki Minaj

This is the average chart position per-album for an artist's entire career. Nicki has a slightly better track record than Lauryn Hill, even though she's released 1 album more. These stats show that every time Nicki Minaj releases an album it charts at 1.3 on the Billboard 200, a stellar record. 

Single Chart Position: Nicki Minaj

Nicki's average chart position on the Billboard Hot 100 is a staggering 42, 10 places above her nearest rivals Da Brat, Eve, and Lil' Kim. This means that over her career she almost always charts in the top 40. Her closest competitor is actually Missy Elliott.

Missy has the most Hot 100 top 10s with 5. Nicki has 4.

Nicki has the most total Hot 100 charting solo songs with 24, while Missy has 18.

82.8% of all singles Nicki has released where she is the lead artist have charted in the Hot 100. Missy is at 72%, Eve at 69.2%, and Lauryn Hill comes 7th with 50%.

Awards: Nicki Minaj

Nicki is the most awarded solo female rapper in the history of the genre. From 277 total nominations, she has picked up 191 wins. Second is Missy with 186 nominations and 125 wins, then it slips all the way back to Iggy in third with 99 nominations and just 52 wins (although she only has one album in her discography). Amazingly, Salt-n-Pepa won just 4 awards from 12 nominations.

Nicki has still won the most awards per album and per single, although Iggy is a relatively close second.

It must be remembered that a lot of awards and categories weren't around during the 80s and 90s. The BET awards weren't established until 2001, which is after Lauryn Hill, Eve, Da Brat and Salt-n-Pepa were in their prime.

Nicki has also won a lot of weird, miscellaneous awards. "Best Celebrity Fragrance", an MP3 Music Award, "Favorite Animated GIF" at the MTV O Music Awards, and a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice award.

The big 4 in hip-hop are the Grammys, BET, American Music Awards, and Billboard Music Awards. Here is how they stack up when only analysing these four categories. And remember, BET only began handing out awards in 2001, so Lauryn Hill, Eve and Salt-n-Pepa missed out on these.

Nicki wins again with 28, but she hasn't won a Grammy. Missy comes second with 25, but she's only been nominated 62 times, compared to Nicki's 105. Lauryn Hill comes third with 13 wins from just two albums, and her nomination-win ratio is significantly better than Nicki's.

Critical Acclaim: Missy Elliott

Nicki, the overall winner, falls to 7th in this comparison. On average, her albums have recieved a 6.6/10 from critics, whereas Missy's, over the course of her six albums, average a muscular 8/10. Lauryn Hill's classic debut album holds an 8.7/10 average, but her MTV Unplugged 2.0 release, which is counted in every other chart in this article, has an average score of 5.7/10.

The Overall Winner: Nicki Minaj

Nicki's claims to be the most awarded female emcee of all time are entirely correct. She has also sold the most singles, and has the best average chart position for both albums and singles. A staggering 82% of all singles Nicki has released have made it onto the Billboard Hot 100.

Second Place: Missy Elliott

Missy is the quiet achiever of the analysis. She's had more top 10 hits than Nicki, has a better nomination-to-win ratio for major awards (40% vs 26%), she blitzed the critical analysis section, she has the second most total awards, and came third in total albums sold. She doesn't get the credit she deserves for an illustrious and trailblazing career.

Third Place: Lauryn Hill

Few will argue that Lauryn Hill is the most complete emcee on this list. Her work with The Fugees will go down in history as some of the most adept lyrical and technical work, regardless of gender. Her first album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, is considered a classic record, and arguably she has the only classic album in this analysis, although in time Missy might have one or two on the same level. Her nomination-to-win ratio in awards was 44%, and she has an incredible 8 Grammy's from just two records, doubling Missy's haul. Not only do the numbers give cred to her standing in the game, she is regularly spoken of in the "Top 5" and "Top 10" conversations, one of the only female rappers who can boast this reputation.

By The Numbers: Too Old? The Lifespan of the Modern Batsman

Australia seems to flip back and forth between "age doesn't matter" (Chris Rogers) and "youth at all costs" (Mitch Marsh) selection policies. Ed Cowan is 35 and can't even secure a place in the NSW Sheffield Shield side, despite being the top scorer of the entire competition the previous year. Steve Smith, the Australian and NSW skipper, said he preferred Daniel Hughes, because: "I think he's a player potentially for the future".

Is 35 too old? How many years could a 35-year-old conceivably have ahead of them at international level? Is there any statistical proof that age alone can predict future form?

The following analysis includes all international male recognised batsmen who have played 4 or more matches (Test, ODI, T20) aged 35 or above from 1990 onwards (their entire career is, however, included in the analysis, not just their post-1990 career). The analysis compares these batsmen to their younger self, not to every single cricketer who has played in the last 27 years. There are many qualitative factors that determine the length of a career or the longevity of a cricketer. This article is going to prove that age by itself (if form remains constant, as it has with Cowan and numerous cricketers on this list) is not a reason to drop somebody. The policy of picking players for the future is admirable, but as this study reveals, the lifespan of the modern batsman is significantly longer than the current Australian selectors seem to think.

So, let's look exclusively at the numbers. This is the mean batting average for every cricketer in the analysis, broken down by format and age group (35+ vs 34 and under).

Immediately, it's clear age is barely a factor for batsmen in their mid-30s. The difference between the two averages in all three formats is almost small enough to be entirely dismissed. Not considering a batsman for international selection at age 35, provided their form remains strong (and Cowan's is very strong), has no statistical backing.

At what age does performance become an issue? 

This graph is a bit astonishing. It isn't until age 40 that test batting averages per age drops below 40 (Note: these are ALL test bastmen who played 4+ matches post-35 from 1990 onwards). Naturally, all the players in the dataset have proven themselves masters of longevity, or they wouldn't still be playing test cricket at age 40, but that line is proof that an international career is by no means over at age 35. If Cowan were to be picked for the Ashes, this graph shows it's possible he'd still be in his prime at age 37, right around the time Australia tours England for the 2019 Ashes.

What about One Day Cricket? 

Australia began to separate the test and one day teams after the World Cup final loss to Sri Lanka in 1996. An initial thought might be one day cricketer is more catered to a younger cricketer, but the statistics say different. In the dataset there are 57 eligible batsmen in test cricket, and 58 in one day cricket, so there doesn't appear to be a focus on youth in international selection policy. Australia doesn't quite match up here: 13 of our test cricketers post-1990 went on to play more than 4 games after they turned 35, but only 8 played one-day cricket post-35.

This graph shows the drop in average due to age doesn't occur until 39. Statistically, a batsman can be just as good at age 38 as they are between 18 and 34.

T20 Internationals

Batsmen in the dataset actually have a higher strike rate from age 35 onwards than they did under the age of 35, and their averages are almost identical. This isn't totally surprising, considering the wealth of older cricketers who have made T20 their format of choice, and travel the world performing in domestic competitions like the IPL and BBL. Selection policies have again chopped and changed between picking older cricketers and giving younger players experience. Australia's 2016 Twenty20 World Cup squad was heavy on youth, with no player aged over 35, but in 2012 David Hussey (35), Michael Hussey (37) and Brad Hogg (41) were included due to outstanding domestic form.

Sheffield Shield

In March 2017 Darren Berry wrote that the Sheffield Shield had  ".. become a development tool for higher honours as opposed to a once-revered hard-fought contest by each state's best 11 players". Brett Geeves wrote an impassioned article in November 2016 with a similar theme:
The damage is done and it will only continue while the domestic competition – both first XI and second – are diluted with underachieving kids who aren’t entering the highest levels of the game equipped with the experiences of complete domination through the once-challenging stepping stone to the earnt representation of state and country
Geeves' article pinpoints 2009 as the year when Sheffield Shield policy seemed to shift from promoting competition to promoting youth, beginning with a rebranding of the second XI competition into the "Futures League". Initial rules dictated teams only field three players over the age of 23, although this was relaxed in the 2011/2012 season to six players allowed over the age of 23.

Was this change in focus reflected in the statistics?

Performance has dropped off notably since the introduction of the Futures League and the shift towards using the Sheffield Shield as a breeding ground for the next generation of test cricketers rather than a fiercely competitive tournament in its own right. Analysing the top 5 run scorers from each year of the competition since 05/06, there was a huge dip of over 3000 runs between 05/06 - 08/09 and 09/10 - 12/13, as well as a drop in average of almost 5.50 runs. The average age of the top 5 run scorers also drops a whole 2.5 years. Despite a rebound in performance from 2013/2014 - 2016/2017, the aggregate was still more than 2000 runs behind the period 2005/2006 - 2008/2009.

These are the ages of all of the top 5 (each season) run scorers. Age 25-29 is the most prolific over the past 12 years, while 35+ has been the least.

This pie chart shows the same information but limited to 05/06 - 08/09, the period immediately before the second XI rebranding, and the season that Brett Geeves observed the Sheffield Shield was "... diluted with underachieving kids". 30-34 and 35+ are both more prolific, with 25-29 staying the same. 

What are these stats saying? The fact that 10% of the top Shield run scorers in the last 12 years have been over the age of 35 is again proof that, as long as form remains constant, mid-30s is not the end of a cricketer's career. Ricky Ponting retired from international cricket in 2012 and returned to Sheffield Shield to top the run scorers list with 911 runs at 75.91, all at age 38.

The idea that this change in focus has been detrimental to the Australian test team is reflected in the data. Australia dominated test cricket right up until the 08/09 India series, after which performances became much less consistent. Australia lost The Ashes at home in 2010/2011, the first time they'd lost a home Ashes in 24 years. In August 2017 they were one loss away from slipping to 6th in the world, a mark they haven't dipped to since 1988.

This period of erratic performance coincided with the drop off in Sheffield Shield performance outlined in the table above. It's also aligned with a huge amount of unrest in team selection, with the number of debutants more than doubling from 2009 to 2017, when compared to the period 2000-2008.


Players like Ed Cowan need to be nurtured, not cast aside. An international batsman's "expiry" age is 40 years old according to the statistics. A lot of cricketers lose form well before they hit 40, and they are dropped, just like every other cricketer in the world. If you're not performing, you won't get picked regularly, regardless of your age. Age shouldn't even factor into the debate though. Older players get significantly less leeway with their form, and can find it almost impossible to make it back into the side if they are dropped (Cameron White, a prime example). Yet if a batsman is 35, statistically speaking he could still be performing well for another 5 years.

There are more benefits to experience and older cricketers than simply proven longevity. Test batsmen can't be manufactured, they are born and bred in competitive spirit and hard-edged battles. Having vastly experienced players in the Sheffield Shield provides invaluable opportunities for young cricketers to learn and test themselves against the best. Think of players like Jamie Siddons, David Hussey, Jamie Cox, Michael Bevan, Martin Love, Michael Di Venuto, Stuart Law, Jimmy Maher. Now consider the current crop of Sheffield Shield batsmen. Ed Cowan was just dropped,  as was Michael Klinger. The journeymen, the cricketers who played Australia in the summer and County cricket in the winter, who have tens of thousands of first-class runs under their belt, are becoming fewer and fewer. George Bailey, Callum Ferguson and Cameron White are really the only super-experienced veterans still getting selected. And Australian international performance is starting to wane because of it.

If you're interested in the dataset, or have further questions about it, please message me! I'd love to chat about it. If you have any suggestions for future videos let me know. Please subscribe to my mailing list too, I will be doing many of these.

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