Drake Passes Aretha Franklin & Stevie Wonder for Most No. 1s on Hot R&B

2020-11-03T16:37:21+00:00November 3rd, 2020|

Ten weeks after it debuted at No. 2, Drake’s “Laugh Now Cry Later,” featuring Lil Durk, ascends to the top spot on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and, in the process, secures Drake’s record-breaking 21st leader on the chart, rewriting the record he shared with Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder for the most No. 1s since the chart began as an all-encompassing genre ranking in 1958.

“Laugh” rises 2-1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart dated Nov. 7, despite a dip in overall chart activity. The single, expected to appear on Drake’s forthcoming Certified Lover Boy album in January 2021, entered at No. 2 on the list dated Aug. 29 and spent nine of its first 10 weeks in the runner-up slot, consistently unable to overtake the pop-culture phenom of Cardi B’s “WAP,” featuring Megan Thee Stallion. In the outlier week, “WAP” and “Laugh” ranked at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, behind the No. 1 arrival of Travis Scott’s “Franchise,” featuring Young Thug and M.I.A.

Now, “Laugh” unseats “WAP,” which slides 1-3 after 10 weeks in command.

Given Drake’s massive appeal on streaming services in recent years that has translated to near-instant No. 1 debuts, “Laugh” took a relatively long road to the top. Its ascent to No. 1, in its 11th week on the chart, is the longest of any Drake track to reach the summit since his 13th leader, “Hotline Bling,” needed 15 weeks before capturing the crown in November 2015. Between “Bling” and “Laugh,” Drake posted seven No. 1s, including five that debuted directly in the top slot.

With Drake the owner of yet another Billboard chart record, here’s an updated list of the acts with the most No. 1s ever on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs:

21, Drake
20, Aretha Franklin
20, Stevie Wonder
17, James Brown
16, Janet Jackson
15, The Temptations
13, Marvin Gaye
13, Michael Jackson
13, Usher

Of Drake’s record-setting 21 No. 1 visits, 12 have come through appearances in lead roles, with the remaining nine through featured billings, a split owed to widely adopted cross-collaboration between rappers and singers on hip-hop and R&B tracks since the 1990s. Franklin and Wonder, whose career heydays predate such team-ups, claim lead billing on all their chart-toppers.

While Drake grabs a 21st champ, Lil Durk earns his first Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs leader. The Chicago native’s only other visit to the top 20 came from “3 Headed Goat,” featuring Lil Baby and Polo G, which climbed to No. 15 in May.

“Laugh” endures thanks to its strength in the radio sector. It leads the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart for a sixth week, though it slides to 24 million in format audience in the week ending Nov. 1, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data, a 2% drip compared to the prior week.

It likewise falls in both sales and streams. On the former, it suffers a 9% dip to 2,000 in sales in the week ending Oct. 29 and retreats 9-15 on R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Song Sales. The collaboration holds at No. 4 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs chart, though it backtracks 6% to 17.4 million U.S. streams in the same period.

When it debuted at its No. 2 peak on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, “Laugh” became Drake’s record-extending 41st top 10. He’s since notched a 42nd thanks to his featured turn on 21 Savage and Metro Boomin’s “Mr. Right Now,” which reached the region in October.

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