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.”