Color Blind: No African-American Artists Had a No. 1 Hit in 2013

Somehow, Beyonce didn't have a No. 1 hit in 2013. Nor did her husband. Or Kanye. Or....

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Larry Busacca / PW / WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment / Getty Images

Beyoncé performs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Dec. 3, 2013

Hip-hop stars Beyonce, Jay Z and Kanye West may have the power to turn everything they touch into gold but not when it comes to scoring a huge pop hit in 2013. In fact, they and other African-American artists did not have a single No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in all of last year.

According to writer Chris Molanphy, who surveys the pop charts, in a piece for Slate, this is the first time this had happened in the Billboard chart ‘s 55 years. It represents a huge contrast to 10 years ago when a person of a color recorded every chart-topping hit. Rather, African-American artists were featured on other artists’ songs last year, such as Rihanna on Eminem’s “The Monster” and T.I. and Pharrell on Robin Thicke’s inescapable summer hit “Blurred Lines.”

In a similar role reversal, Molanphy also cited that white artists topped the No. 1 spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart in 44 out of the 52 weeks last year.

The color omission also applied to this year’s recent inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which there is not one living African-American artist among them — E Street Band sax player Clarence Clemmons will be posthumously inducted.

As for why this is happening, Molanphy wrote: “Music fans are playing out an unironic version of Stephen Colbert’s joke about not seeing color…and yet somehow, when the data is compiled about what we’re all buying and streaming, the Timberlakes and Matherses and Macklemores keep winding up atop the stack, ahead of the Miguels and J. Coles.”

278 comments
RobGeorge1
RobGeorge1

This is a BS article. Rihanna scored a number one hit duet in 2013 with Eminem. Billboard credits that as her 13th Number One. So, if Billboard counts that as a number one for HER, how can this writer claim no black artist hit Number One in 2013? And, by that definition, Pharrell and T.I. hit Number One hit with "Blurred Lines."  Please be serious. 

TheIkeHill
TheIkeHill

This is a reckless article. This is not a race issue but a blending trend.  Justin Timberlake is a pop/rnb artist.  Kayne is moving over to Rock.  Rihanna is on everyone's tracks. The blackeye peas, timberland, and Pharellel pretty much produces everyone's music.  This is not a big deal or a true representation of whats really going on.  Good for the world.  This article is short sited.  


(by the way im african american)

AmberLynn
AmberLynn

A few thoughts.  First of all, this list isn't about people "of color" not having number ones.  It's specific to African Americans.  So it's not just white people on top.  Bruno Mars alone covers about 5 ethnicities, and he had 2 of the 13 number one hits.  Also, Eminem released three songs before "The Monster" yet that song (which Rihanna pretty much owned) is the one that became a number one.  Just saying - two of the biggest songs of the year wouldn't be here without their African American collaborations.    Or Barbadian.  Whatever.   


OK, next thought.  Look at the songs that were number ones.  "Can't Hold Us", "Thrift Shop", "Roar", "Wrecking Ball", "Locked out of Heaven", "If I Was Your Man", "The Monster", etc.  The thing these songs have in common is that they are poppy and catchy.  Not that they are actually good.  Making it to number 1 isn't about skill; it's about writing things that get in people's heads.  So for example, Beyonce has an excellent album, but none of the songs on it are particularly poppy or catchy, and thus they are not likely to become massive singles.  She didn't intend for her album to be about singles and that is why she released it the way she did.  On the other hand, Miley Cyrus made a mockery of herself and it got people interested.  But as a white person, I'll gladly hand over Miley or Katy Perry and take Beyonce any day.  Or Robin Thick for that matter.  Ugh, the artists on this list do NOT represent good white artists anymore than they misrepresent good black artists.  (OK, Eminem can stay).  Oh and "Royals" only because that song was actually really unique.


Part of the problem with the specific artists mentioned in this article is that their work this year was not up to par with previous years.  Sorry Kanye… wtf was your last album?  Don't compare yourself to Jesus and then release whatever Bound 2 was.  Seriously, I have nightmares about that video.  


The Billboard Top 100 is predominantly a list of poppy, catchy tunes, mostly purchased by teenagers and it represents very narrow confines of music.  Just as most of the great black artists were not represented here, neither were great white artists.  Moral of the story, the mainstream is attracted to crap music and people shouldn't aspire to be on top of this list if they want to be considered good.  


The end.  

andre_shepard
andre_shepard

Interesting yet true,.. 2014 we will be forced to work hard & in return the reward will be great "Stay with me"

TonyTeaze
TonyTeaze

aint nothing racist, songs have been pretty lousy, bottom line. step up or get stepped on.

VictoriaRStanley
VictoriaRStanley

There is no such thing as race, only the human race. We all bleed red. Why do they keep trying to separate us. We always fall for it. Obviously there were African-American people on the top songs, the song just wasn't theirs alone. I wish we could all see outside of the racial box. The media continues to cloud our vision. Think critically guys!!!

Stingy_Blue
Stingy_Blue

It might be a one off thing.  But, it does show 2 things that whites are very good at co-opting whatever blacks have of value especially when so many blacks are so eager to give it away --- music being no exception and that when push come to shove whites would rather support other white people over other people even if the other people are more authentic, original, and talented.  When you have been brought up with the idea that world revolves around you, you seek instances where that notion can be reaffirmed. They believe they are superior to everybody else.  They are the ones who have an entitlement culture and despite what Injustice Scalia says, they are the ones who have a sense of racial entitlement and Debbie normand rajcszeswski's rant about blacks just proves it. #CanSomeoneSayProjection!

Kalin3000
Kalin3000

Americans just generally don't like to talk about race or race issues at all. It's pretty sad. People should be able to state their position and how they feel without people getting upset (provided they aren't being offensive or insensitive). If you don't agree with this article then state that, but why get upset?

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

Did someone actually write this article? And it got published? And it's not a joke?

Also, since when are Pharrel (12 freaking weeks at #1!) and Rihanna white?

PrettyEyes2
PrettyEyes2

Well the quality of Rap music and R n' B has lost it's cache! The music is coming fast & furious now and only a hand full of people working around the clock to get music out to us...Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Drake and Kanye! That's pretty much it and all of those guys get massive radio airplay! Social Media plays a huge part now a days in promoting, hell just look at Rihanna & Beyonce. 2013 was ONLY the first year that Blacks didn't hold down the number one spot on Billboard soooo there is always 2014.

edelen121
edelen121

what is the purpose behind this article? we have a greater call to serve in this world to change a people lives like or Amazing Dr. Martin Luther king,and the incredible Mr. Neslon Manelda do I need to keep going please save your stero type thinking , We will never be color blind our history wont allow it.

QuinHappyJ
QuinHappyJ

so no one wants to take credit for the article? It just says Time Staff. What a bunch of cowards 

TamDizzle
TamDizzle

Before anyone says it's racist, it's not racist. It's just not racist. (Signed, that black girl who calls out people on racism, but knows that this isn't racist).

IvoryJeff
IvoryJeff

This is no cause 4 alarm. For all we know, nearly the exact opposite could end up happening this yr or next. W/ charts, u just never know & black artists did have #1 albums on the main survey, Billboard 200, so I don't think there's some conspiracy at work. 


As a longtime Billboard reader, I've seen many wks when most songs in the top 10 on the Hot 100 were by black artists & a wk, I think in '03, when they ALL were. & a lot of artists like Beyonce have become more album-oriented & less concerned w/ hit singles. Anyway, writing & producing like Ne-Yo often does is where the real $ is. That's how ppl like Missy Elliott remain wealthy w/o having to release much music as artists. 


& as 4 the Hot 100 in '13, not many songs by ANYONE managed 2 get 2 #1 w/ radio playing the same 4 or 5 songs CONSTANTLY like Blurred Lines - which did have 2 black artists featured tho the lead artist is white - Royals, etc, which helped them stay on top A WHOOOOOOOLE lotta wks.

LDestinedCox
LDestinedCox

I hate this article - for many reasons.  First of all, the Time "staff' don't even know what they are talking about.  They didn't even do any real research.  There are many reasons for why there were no black artists that had a #1 hit in 2013.  First of all, you have more and more diversity within the music industry. Rap was HUGE between 1995-2010.  Rap is following the trend of a lot of genres.  Every genre going through the up and down swing. Now, for all the people talking bad about rap - remember this- white people bought most of that music. Most blacks have not purchased an album in almost 10 years.  These are facts.  They are either getting it free somehow or downloading through iTunes. So they were not the ones who made Jay-Z and Lil' Wayne household names - whites kids bought that music.  Now, moving on...it is obvious this is not really about race but about the music industry..  But, the article writers choose to make this about race and it really isn't and the race haters are following for it.  Back to my original idea about diversity within the industry.  Like never before, you have people crossing genre lines that are not traditionally associated with their skin tone.  For example, Justin Timberlake.  Justin Timberlake's last album was considered R&B.  Traditionally R&B was associated with blacks.  But, there are more white artists that are doing that kind of music and obviously there are whites that are gravitating to it. Of course, then there is the whole discussion of whether what Justin does is TRUE R&B...but that's another discussion within itself.  So that really explains the trend right there...rap is going through its down swing and people are listening to other  genres.  What I really HATE about this article is that it makes it seem like blacks only do Rap music. Which is not true.  We are active in every genre except rock and country.  But, for some reason the younger generation of white people have never identified with black music that wasn't rap....until maybe now???

RS_Yes
RS_Yes

At the end of the day it's all entertainment.  Folks are all up in arms over entertainment.  If you do not like, don't listen and move on.  The same goes with violent tv and reality tv...it's all entertainment.  If you do not like it, move on.

kbaylor
kbaylor

Debbie, pretty judgmental.  Why are you so angry?  I'm not entitled and don't believe in it.  And you are absolutely entitled to your opinion.  It just read like you were lumping all Blacks into the same mindset (entitlement).  I believe in dialogue though.  The 'problem' is that true dialogue can't occur unless people check their stereotypes and emotion at the door.  I do hope you and everyone else on this site has a good day. Less tribes, more peace.  Take care.

kbaylor
kbaylor

JJ, seriously....you think that the majority of people that buy rap music (and blast rap music) are Black...?  I don't mean this to offend you, I really don't.  But the demographics of this country make that nearly impossible.  Pop off this site and go google the demographics of the audience that purchase rap music.  The 'overwhelming majority' is White kids.  And it's really just a population mix phenomenon.  Assuming you are White, if you were able to control your entire race and stop them from buying anything you felt was unworthy...then you could bring the whole genre down.  But we know it's silly to think that any one person should be on the hook for their entire race, correct...?

Nextvic
Nextvic

If you are to get a number one hit on the billboard charts, you have to get plenty of radio spins. That just didn't happen this year for many black artist. And the crap that did isn't worth mentioning.

kbaylor
kbaylor

sorry for my typos.  need more coffee.  :)

VatriceGeorge
VatriceGeorge

@VictoriaRStanley Im personally offended by someone not acknowledging my skin color. I celebrate my blackness and culture and I hope other folks do the same. I share my culture with others and love to learn about other folks cultures. Why pretend like differences do not exist?

CareyGrant
CareyGrant

@VictoriaRStanley Only white people think that acknowledging that people have different skin tones is racist. It's like a needle that's coming to burst their color blind bubble. 

Stopthehate123
Stopthehate123

@Stingy_Blue right like fashion! u mean how in 03 everyone wore long solid t's an baggy jeans an made fun of preppy white kids an skateboarders right? like how they now bite that style right? lol can't be one sided pumpkin! lol

Openminded1
Openminded1

@PrettyEyes2 Why is it not ok for whites to be on top of the charts? When a black says that , he or she are being racist. Stop and think who is picking the winners, it has nothing to do with racism . When a black is up for an academy award and loses to a white, blacks call out the race card. Whites never do that when it is the other way around. double standard bs. blacks are far more racist then whites are in 2014.

Kalin3000
Kalin3000

How is the R&B and Hip Hop music by Justin Timberlake and Macklemore any different from Miguel, J.Cole, and many others? A black artists could have created the EXACT same Thrift Shop song and it wouldn't have been nearly as popular. I am not saying this is because of racism, I am admitting that I don't know the reason why.

Japhya
Japhya

@TamDizzle .....I pity the fool that would make such a dumbass statement.  White folks constantly remake, or immulate black music while receiving total credit for it, and it's accepted as their own.  Look at all the Kudos Robin Thicke received for copying Marvin Gaye's music.  You should change your name to TamDizzy, because you are totally out in space.

Japhya
Japhya

@IvoryJeff ...Stay focused Ivory.  This article is about number one hit SINGLEs, not ALBUMs.  You are still in 2003.  That was eleven years ago.  Wake up... <thinking out loud>  IvoryJeff is probably married to a white woman and he's trying to convince, or prove to her, that he's on her side

CareyGrant
CareyGrant

@LDestinedCox  Your post is dripping with racism.

Example:

>white people bought most of that music. Most blacks have not purchased an album in almost 10 years.


Like how you mentioned "white people" but then went "blacks" rather than going "black people" or "whites."  Also, unless you post some evidence to back up that claim, you are full of crap. 

PrettyEyes2
PrettyEyes2

@LDestinedCox- no my dear the last part of your paragraph is incorrect!! White people most certainly identified with Black music in the past....ever heard of Rock N Roll? Rock N Roll was and has always been considered Black music (or as the Whites called it back in the 50's & 60's, N***er music). Don't let the Elvis Presley royalty fool ya. Elvis admitted that he got to learn & love Rhythm and Blues and Rock N Roll from his fellow Black friends growing up in the South. Before there was Hip Hop, there was just Rap, then R& B, then Disco, then Rock N Roll, then Rhythm and Blues, than Jazz.....These are all Black music genres! Blacks do it first and then Whites jump on it and make it very profitable!


Kalin3000
Kalin3000

No one is up in arms at all. Stop letting one media piece dictate the current state of affairs.

LDestinedCox
LDestinedCox

@RS_YesI would agree with you except people have children.  Children can be influenced by some of the less wholesome 'entertainment'.  But, in reality these are the same people who don't really 'parent' their children and let the TV be the babysitter.

DebbieNormandRajczewski
DebbieNormandRajczewski

@kbaylor You have a good day too!!!  I am not lumping all of one race together.  You have misjudged me KB.  Either way, I do hope you have a good day, and are somewhere warm to enjoy it!

Openminded1
Openminded1

@kbaylor Exactly white kids help make the JZ's of the world very rich. Many whites love black artist, there are some real mature blacks not racist types that like some white entertainers gee what a shock. many black love Justin Timberlake, some evn like teh wannabe black Justin B dummy.

AmberLynn
AmberLynn

@kbaylor To back up your point, and sort of state the obvious… blacks are a minority.  By definition, there are less black people than white people in the United States.  (I believe that number is 77% compared to 13% according to the US Census Bureau).  That's a LOT more white people buying music than black people.  It has nothing to do with skills or racism or anything like that.  It's simple math.  Considering that basic math, it's actually really impressive and speaks volumes to "black" music that so many artists are so successful.  It also means that white people (as the dominant purchasing majority) are listening to music based on what they enjoy rather than skin color.  This year, the lack of black artists on top is a fluke, not a major statement of racism.  

TirasProthro
TirasProthro

@VatriceGeorge@VictoriaRStanley Thankyou. Thats the problem. No one (whites) wants to recognize blacks for their just due. Everything is stolen and took from us and were suppose to just take a scraps. Now there slowly taking our music genre

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Kalin3000 Bs white kids and young people love black rappers and buy their music all the time. I know black kids who refuse to by white artist music just because they are white. That is racism.

TirasProthro
TirasProthro

@Kalin3000 Thrift shop was a catchy song but you mean to tell me, jay z, kendrick lamar or any other black artist didnt have songs or albums better. cmon nah

Japhya
Japhya

@Kalin3000 ...This is just my opinion, but I believe that a white artist can record a halfass R&B song and receive kudos for it, because they are not expected to be as good as a black artist in this area.  It's totally not fair.  A black country singer will have to be twice as good as a white country singer to get any type of recognition.  But hey, it's a priviledged white world that we are living in.  What can I say

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Japhya @TamDizzle I remember the racist Kenye, jumping on stage when T Swift won a few years back, never seen a white person do anything like that.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Japhya @TamDizzle Well one thing whites do not do, they do not just vote for white people just because they are white.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Japhya And you are the racist, what you mad because he might have gone white instead of black, like many black men do You do know that Kim K is not black right, and that barry gordy was married to a white women, and dianna ross was married to a white guy, and Ice T chose white, and Obama is half white, and so his Hallie Barry, and many other entertainers with black men and white women. I guess you only go black to keep in your race.

LDestinedCox
LDestinedCox

@PrettyEyes2You didn't read the post very carefully.  I said the young generation of white kids.  I said nothing about the past generation.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@TirasProthro @VatriceGeorge @VictoriaRStanley Race card BS, that is why blacks go back 2 steps using the race card every time. Whites never ever use the race card and who is in the white house my brother, and who do you think put him there twice. Without the white vote their would not be  an Obama in the house.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Japhya Race card bs putting blacks backwards again. Dummy who is in the White House?

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Japhya @LDestinedCox @PrettyEyes2 You are really a racist. And guys like Frank Sinatra and dean Martin helped and fought for  great talents like Sammy davis to be treated the same as them. You have a very narrow racist mind it will cost you jobs, freedom, and money with that way of thinking.

Japhya
Japhya

@LDestinedCox @PrettyEyes2  ...Additionally, long before the 1950s, composers like  "Scott Joplin" (father of Ragtime), white folks were emulating black music.  Let's not forget about black American's contribution to Jazz and Folk music




Japhya
Japhya

@LDestinedCox @PrettyEyes2  ...I agree with your last statement. The world-wide web/video/internet is the reason younger whites are able to enjoy/embrace and identify with rap music. I know what PrettyEyes2 was saying, because white folks has identified with (some behind closed doors) black music for more than six decades. They emulated, copied, stole and bought more black music than blacks; especially between 1950-2010