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Fri, 10.10.2003

Black Musicians Hold All of Billboard’s Top Ten

On this date in 2003 for the first time in the 50-year history of the Billboard music charts, all top 10 songs in America were by Black artists.

It was a moment of triumph in hip-hop's ascent as a dominant force in popular culture. Once an underground style characterized by rhymes about urban life and later gangster mythology and real-life turf wars, rap music is now heard across the radio dial and the nation by a diverse fan base. Heavy beats accompany shoppers at the malls, and street rhymes are the soundtrack to suburban sleepovers.

The last time Black artists dominated the charts was in May 1972, when the top eight songs were by Roberta Flack, Joe Tex, the Chi-Lites, the Staple Singers, Michael Jackson, the Stylistics, Al Green, and Aretha Franklin. In 2003, in October’s second-week issue of Billboard, the top 10 songs ranged from the R&B style of Beyoncé's "Baby Boy" (at No. 1) to the now ever-present rap partnerships such as "Shake Ya Tailfeather," by Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee, and "Into You," by Fabolous featuring Ashanti. Also on the list was "P.I. M. P." by 50 Cent, who has the year's top-selling CD.

Early in 2003, Eminem was a huge success as a great (white) rapper. Now Nelly and Lil Jon are crossing over, and Black artists are doing Black music. Rappers are more conscious of the growing market, and they're creating records to accommodate that consumer. Currently, 70 percent of hip-hop is bought by white kids; hip-hop is the new American music among young people.


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