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Cardi B is somehow the first female rapper with two No. 1 hits

Cardi B is somehow the first female rapper with two No. 1 hits
[Photo: Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post via Getty Images]

Bronx-bred rapper Cardi B stormed into mainstream America’s heart last summer with the monster hit “Bodak Yellow.” The quickness with which that song earned its ubiquity, knocking Taylor Swift off her pivot, had all the makings of a fad. Instead, a year later, Cardi B’s record-breaking rise has only continued upward. Now, she has a new claim to boast—although the victory is somewhat bittersweet.

As Billboard reports, Cardi B’s Latin-tinged jam, “I Like It,” featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin, has reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This achievement marks Cardi’s second chart-topper, which makes her officially the first female rapper to ever score two No. 1 hits. It’s an impressive honor, to be clear, but it also raises the question: How has this never happened before? The record isn’t two back-to-back No. 1 singles, it’s just two, period. Somehow, no rapper with a Y-chromosome had ever sat at the top of the charts two times.

Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliott, Eve, Lauryn Hill. A quick scan of Billboard data confirms that none of them pulled off this feat. Minaj’s highest charting single, “Anaconda,” peaked at No. 2 in 2014. Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” hit No. 1 in 1998, but her closest other single, “Ex Factor,” never made it above No. 21. (For comparison, Jay-Z has four No. 1 hits.)

To be fair, Hill’s album sales achievements are staggering. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is certified an astonishing 8X platinum, and it racked up a bunch of Grammys. Having a No. 1 single, however, suggests a concentrated thunderclap of zeitgeist-seizing, marking a moment in time as the artist’s own. Perhaps with hip-hop adjacent pop stars Beyoncé and Rihanna increasingly flexing their rap skills, and Cardi serving as inspiration, multiple No. 1’s  for women rappers will be less surprising in the near future.

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