In Honor of the 30th Anniversary of Rap’s First Hot 100 No. 1, A List of Hip-Hop Hot 100 Firsts

Written by on November 6, 2020

It was a landmark year for hip-hop: Classic albums like Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet, Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out were released to critical acclaim, while iconic singles like Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance,” A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” and MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” became essential parts of ’90s pop culture.

And on Nov. 3, 1990, rap cemented its finally unignorable mainstream influence with its first-ever No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100: Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”

OK, so it probably wasn’t the seal-breaking No. 1 most hip-hop fans would’ve chosen: a pop-leaning, suburbs-courting, classic rock-sampling crossover anthem from the artist born Robert Van Winkle, a white MC of controversial credibility. Still, it was a crucial chart first in rap history: the culmination of a number of smaller breakthroughs over the previous decade, and the start of many historic hip-hop No. 1s to come.



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