It took more than half the year, but a hip hop album has finally topped the charts. Lil Uzi Vert has secured the number one spot of the Billboard Hot 100 with his album, "Pink Tape." While that in itself is record-breaking, the accomplishment also ended the longest gap between number one rap albums in nearly 30 years. According to Billboard, the last rap album to reach the top spot was Metro Boomin's "Heroes and Villains" in December 2022.
Lil Uzi has become one of the biggest names not only in hip hop but in music. The "Just Wanna Rock" rapper broke out on the scene during the mid-2010s and was one of the leaders of the 'SoundCloud Rap' generation. He, along with Playboi Carti and Lil Yachty, turned the rap game upside down with their new sounds, and at first, it wasn't widely accepted. In fact, it was often met with a lot of hate.
Radio stations refused to play their music. They would go on popular shows like The Breakfast Club or Hot 97 with Funkmaster Flex, and get teased for their lack of old rap knowledge or their inability to freestyle. But, that didn't stop them.
Between 2014-2016, Lil Uzi Vert released six mixtapes, each of which helped build up his fan base. By 2017, the entertainer was one of the highest streaming rappers in music and had yet to drop a debut album. He went on tour with The Weeknd and released "XO Tour Life," which would go on to become the most-played song in SoundCloud history.
Lil Uzi Vert's debut album, LUV Is Rage 2, was released in August and achieved his first No. 1 spot on the charts. As of 2023, LUV Is Rage 2 ranks as the 12th highest streaming hip-hop album on Spotify. His second album, released in March 2020 just before the pandemic, sold 288K album units in its first week and has since been certified double platinum.
This will now be Uzi's third number one album, and it puts him in elite company. He becomes the third rapper, joining Drake and J. Cole, to have every one of their studio albums top the Billboard 200.
And according to Lil Uzi, this is not his official album—it's an "experimental mixtape" before the real album is released later this year.
Interestingly, amidst releases from prominent rappers like Young Thug, Gunna, and Ice Spice, it was Lil Uzi's mixtape that reached the top spot, which speaks volumes.
Perhaps the gatekeepers dismissed Lil Uzi Vert's music as not fitting the traditional rap mold.
Nevertheless, he has garnered love and respect from his audience, regardless of the recognition he received from the established rap scene.
Now, almost a decade later, the artist they once tried to exclude is the one revitalizing hip-hop.