July and August of 2018 witnessed chart dominance by Drake and Travis Scott; the music world also mourned the passing of Aretha Franklin
Billboard #1s | July/August 2018
See all the Billboard charts at http://www.billboard.com/charts/
Billboard Hot 100
7/7: “I Like It” (Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J. Balvin)
7/14: “Nice For What” (Drake)
7/21, 7/28, 8/4, 8/11, 8/18, 8/25: “In My Feelings” (Drake)
6/2: Pray For The Wicked (Panic! At The Disco)
7/14, 7/21, 7/28, 8/4, 8/11: Scorpion (Drake)
8/18, 8/25: Astroworld (Travis Scott)
Billboard Artist 100
7/7: Panic! At The Disco
7/14, 7/21, 7/28, 8/4, 8/11: Drake
8/18, 8/25: Travis Scott
July/August 2018: The Playlist
Hip-hop dominated the Billboard charts in July and August, with the Hot 100 mostly owned by Drake, who held the top spot with both “Nice For What” and “In My Feelings.” Cardi B also continued her chart dominance, earning her second Hot 100 #1 with “I Like It” ft. Bad Bunny and J. Balvin, in process becoming the only female rapper to earn two #1s in the history of the Hot 100. The Billboard 200 and the Artist 100 both witnessed five weeks at #1 by Drake, two weeks at #1 by Travis Scott, and one week at #1 by the only non-hip-hop act to achieve a major Billboard #1 in July or August, veteran glam rock band Panic! At The Disco.
While hip-hop dominated the charts this summer, Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour became the all-time highest-grossing tour led by a female singer
Drake’s Chart Dominance Continues
Through mid-July, Drake spent 19 weeks at #1 on the Hot 100, first with “God’s Plan,” and then with “Nice For What.” By the time the release of Scorpion was announced, it was clear that it will go to #1, which it did, setting a new streaming record in the process. Yet it was not all smooth sailing for @champagnepapi. At the end of May, Pusha T alleged that Drake was hiding a child on diss track “The Story Of Adidon.” When Scorpion came out, Drake admitted that he indeed had a child with French model Sophie Brussaux; his son was born in October 2017. On “March 14” Drake set the relationship straight, referencing Michael Jackson on the line “she not my lover like Billie Jean but the kid is mine.” @champagnepapi finished the song with the lines “I’m all alone / no one to cry on / I need shelter from the rain to ease the pain,” demonstrating that even while on top the charts, Drake feels the weight of unintended parenthood.
The surprise fatherhood narrative makes Scorpion a strange album which, in its 90 minute play time, has room for both “March 14” and typical hip-hop stunting on tracks like “Nonstop,” which took #2 on the Hot 100. However, the album’s biggest surprise is track 21 of 25, “In My Feelings,” which started at #6 on the Hot 100 thanks to the New Orleans bounce that propelled “Nice For What” to #1 on the Hot 100. “In My Feelings” quickly graduated to #1 thanks to a dance invented by Instagram star Shiggy, whose #inmyfeelings challenge became the Internet’s biggest summer sensation, recalling the successes of “Harlem Shake” and the sometime “Black Beatles“-assisted Mannequin Challenge. “In My Feelings” has not let go of the #1 spot since Shiggy’s challenge went viral and Drake rewarded Shiggy for the song’s momentum by giving him a role in the official “In My Feelings” music video. Given the rapid lifespan of trending challenges, it’s only a matter of time until the next viral craze shakes up the Billboard Hot 100.
The Shiggy Instagram that started it all for “In My Feelings”
Travis Scott Leads The Rest of Summer ’18 Hip-Hop Releases
Drake’s Scorpion only stayed on top of the Billboard 200 for five weeks. The album that knocked it off was Travis Scott’s Astroworld, which became the Houston rapper’s second chart-topper. Scott has been in Kanye West‘s musical orbit since signing with GOOD Music in 2012, but in 2017 @travisscott graduated from being a colleague to joining West’s extended family when he started dating Kylie Jenner, half-sister of Kim Kardashian West. Scott and Jenner welcomed to the world a baby girl this February and Scott’s moment as not just a rapper, but as a celebrity helped him achieve a personal best with 270 thousand copies of Astroworld sold the first week the album came out.
The music on Astroworld carries on the moody and paranoid brand of hip-hop that @travisscott is known for. What makes the album different from Scott’s previous releases is the all star list of collaborators, which includes a who’s-who of hip-hop hitmakers, Stevie Wonder (“Stop Trying To Be God“), and John Mayer (“Astrothunder“). The biggest hit off of Astroworld so far has been “Sicko Mode” ft. Swae Lee and Drake, which once again demonstrates the @champagnepapi golden touch. The song started at #4 on the Hot 100 and could have been split into multiple tracks given Scott’s tendency to chop his tracks. Indeed, the influence of Houston chopped-and-screwed hip-hop sound is felt throughout the album and is especially spotlighted on “R.I.P. Screw,” which pays tribute to the late DJ Screw, who pioneered the chopped-and-screwed technique in the 1990’s. Astroworld is Scott’s most ambitious album, it even has the Virgil Abloh shirts to match and in the summer of ’18, Astroworld and Scorpion played back-to-back provide two and a half hours of hip-hop’s boundary pushing.
Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD tour kicks off in November in Baltimore
Of course, Drake and Travis Scott were not the only rappers who released albums this summer. For every Scorpion and Astroworld somebody else did not take #1 and possibly the angriest runner-up, of all people, was Nicki Minaj whose Queen took #2 behind Astroworld in August. Minaj took to Twitter, going after both Scott and Jenner and specifically accusing Scott of bundling tour ticket sales with his album. Controversy aside, Minaj’s Queen runs over an hour and like Astroworld brings in Swae Lee and The Weeknd. What’s missing is a Drake collaboration, which could have put Queen on top. At least Minaj had a top ten hit as a featured artist on “Fefe” by 6ix9ine and Murda Beatz, which has gone to #3 on the Hot 100 and became the biggest hit for @6ix9ine in his young, controversial, career.
6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj just performed “Fefe” live for the first time
In other summer hip-hop news, Compton rapper YG released his third album Stay Dangerous, which took #5 on the Billboard 200 and featured the #16 Hot 100 hit “Big Bank” ft. Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz, and Big Sean. Another Compton rapper, Tyga, reached #8 on the Hot 100 with “Taste” ft. Offset, showing that the former rapper boyfriend of Kylie Jenner can also make the top ten of the Hot 100. DJ Khaled, who took #1 last year with “I’m The One” ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper, and Lil Wayne, reunited most of the crew, excluding Lil Wayne, on “No Brainer,” which started at #5 on the Hot 100 and may challenge for #1 after the “In My Feelings” craze subsides. The single precedes Khaled’s forthcoming album Father Of Asahd, of which you’ll hear from Khaled on social media.
DJ Khaled’s “No Brainer” has already gone Gold
Panic! At The Disco Leads Non-Hip-Hop Winners
With so many hip-hop releases this summer, it was hard for non-hip-hop artists to take #1. On the Billboard 200, only Panic! At The Disco could take #1 in July with Pray For The Wicked, the band’s sixth album. If you’re counting, it has been 13 years since @panicatthedisco debuted with top 10 hit “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and since then all of the band’s members changed except lead vocalist Brendon Urie, whose versatile tenor remains the band’s trademark and is exhibited on the new album’s lead single “Say Amen (Saturday Night).”
Other major albums of the summer include one from Britain’s Florence + The Machine, whose High As Hope earned a #2 start (behind Drake) on the Billboard 200 and proved that Florence Welch and company can still deliver catchy indie rock hits such as lead single “Hunger.” Country’s Kenny Chesney continued selling out arenas this summer and his seventeenth album Songs For The Saints also started at #2 behind Drake. Songs For The Saints was personal for Chesney as its content, such as top 40 hit “Get Along,” was inspired by the rebuilding process after Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean last summer and destroyed Chesney’s house in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nashville duo Dan + Shay had their self-titled album debut at #6 on the Billboard 200 and it produced one of country’s biggest songs of the summer, Country Airplay #1 “Tequila,” which is, yes, about alcohol and a woman.
When it comes to singles, Ariana Grande had a big summer with “No Tears Left To Cry” peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 and follow-up “God Is A Woman” taking #11. These chart achievements bode well for her fourth studio album Sweetener. A sleeper hit that has been on the charts for six months and made it to #11 in August was “Love Lies” by Khalid ft. Normani (formerly of Fifth Harmony), which came off of the soundtrack to the film Love, Simon in February. The film has been available on home video since June, but the success of “Love Lies” proves that even a high energy summer needs its moments of sensuality. Lastly, Twenty One Pilots, Billboard’s #1 rock group of 2016, came back with “Jumpsuit” and released more singles after it in anticipation of the band’s forthcoming album Trench. If Trench becomes another hit, then the duo from Columbus will be well-positioned to take back the #1 rock group title from Imagine Dragons.
Ariana Grande spent the summer gearing up for a chart takeover in the fall
R.I.P. Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)
By definition, only one artist could be called “Queen of Soul” and Aretha Franklin owned the title since the late 1960’s. The Queen died of pancreatic cancer in her home in Detroit on August 16th and since then tributes have poured in from around the world. The singer’s funeral on August 31st was an eight-hour tribute that featured performances by peers (Stevie Wonder, Ronald Isley) and artists that Aretha influenced, from the 1970’s (Chaka Khan) to the modern day (Ariana Grande).
Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis in 1942, but by age four she was living in Detroit where her father, C.L. Franklin established himself as “the man with the golden voice” at the New Bethel Baptist Church. Franklin first sang gospel in church, becoming a star for the congregation and touring nationally. She was a teen mother to two boys (and would eventually be a mother of four), but early pregnancies did not deter Franklin from pursuing her musical ambitions. At age 18 she left her two children behind with family in Detroit and went to New York City, where she recorded her first studio albums with Columbia Records. Yet Franklin’s breakthrough came a few years later, when she left Columbia for Atlantic and started recording with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section. Those sessions led to nine top 10 hits on the Hot 100 in 1967-68, including “A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like),” “Chain Of Fools,” “Think,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” and her signature cover of Otis Redding‘s “Respect” that took #1 on the Hot 100 and became the song that would not only define Franklin’s career, but also the civil rights upheaval of the late 1960’s. Franklin would go on to earn 45 Billboard top 40 hits, including her only other Hot 100 #1, the 1987 duet “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” with the late George Michael. Franklin’s accolades include being the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, 18 Grammy awards, a multitude of honorary degrees, and a performance slot at the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. Rolling Stone named Franklin the #1 singer of all time in 2010 and at her funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton put it best when he said “we don’t all agree on everything, but we agree on Aretha.” Check out the Queen’s “Respect” below, an anthem from one of the greatest American artists of all time: