Hip-hop celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Although the musical genre and cultural movement have deep roots, its genesis is often attributed to a 1973 summer party in the Bronx where DJ Kool Herc used two turntables to create a breakbeat – one of the foundations of modern hip-hop music.
What started as a New York subculture spread across the nation in the mid ‘80s and early ‘90s, which came to be known as the Golden Age of Hip-Hop – the era when innovative acts like Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, and A Tribe Called Quest hit the mainstream. (From the beginnings to today, these are the rappers with the most hits.)
To determine the most popular hip-hop groups of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on chart performance from the Billboard Hot 100. Hip-hop artists were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No.1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point. Only songs for which a hip-hop group is the primary credited artist – not a featured act – were considered. Chart data is current through Aug. 5, 2023.
Other acts on the list that gained fame in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s include Heavy D and the Boyz, Cypress Hill, and Salt-N-Pepa. Some pioneers of the genre continued making music well into the 21st century, including the Beastie Boys, Mobb Deep, and the Atlanta duo Outkast (which has become one of the most popular musical duos of all time.)
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