Drake Extends Records While Jack Harlow Scores ‘First’ No. 1: The Year in R&B/Hip-Hop Charts 2022

Since Drake dropped his debut album, Thank Me Later, in 2010, he’s enjoyed a yearly coronation more often than not: For the seventh time in the past 13 years, the superstar caps the year as Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist. He first achieved the rank in 2012, ran a four-peat from 2015-18, and reclaimed the MVP title last year. With seven rings, the 6 God firmly stands in a class of his own, three ahead of his nearest challenger, R. Kelly, who headed the year-end recap four times.

Unsurprisingly, Drake also repeats on the Top Rap Artists chart, which debuted last year. Beyoncé, meanwhile, rules 2022’s Top R&B Artists recap, now in its second year.

Explore All of Billboard’s 2022 Year-End Charts

Drake traces his success this year to the endurance of his 2021 album, Certified Lover Boy and 2022 release Honestly, Nevermind. The former also wraps 2022 at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums recap, while the latter finishes at No. 21. Certified, which contains hits like “Way 2 Sexy,” featuring Drake and Tems, “Knife Talk,” with 21 Savage and featuring Project Pat and the Travis Scott-assisted “Fair Trade,” never fell below No. 13 on the weekly Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums recap during the chart year. Further, with its 10 weeks at No. 1 to date, it’s only Drake’s second album to reach the double-digit mark, after Take Care and its 12-week run in 2012-13.

Looking (far) ahead, Drake is already a frontrunner for his eighth title as the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist. His collaborative album with 21 Savage, Her Loss, was released Nov. 4 and debuted on the Nov. 19, 2022, chart date – the first week of the 2023 chart year.

Billboard’s year-end music recaps represent aggregated metrics for each artist, title, label and music contributor on the weekly charts dated Nov. 20, 2021 through Nov. 12, 2022. The rankings for Luminate-based recaps reflect equivalent album units, airplay, sales or streaming during the weeks that the titles appeared on a respective chart during the tracking year. Any activity registered before or after a title’s chart run isn’t considered in these rankings. That methodology details, and the November-November time period, account for some of the difference between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Luminate.

Harlow ‘First’ in Class: Jack Harlow’s “First Class” captures first place on the annual Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs recap and gives the 24-year-old Louisville-bred rapper his first year-end champ on the list. The single, which debuted in April and samples Fergie’s 2006 track “Glamorous,” featuring Ludacris, logged 10 weeks on top of the weekly Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and spent its first 27 weeks on the list inside the top 10.

The song’s double-digit stay also punched Harlow’s ticket into a rare club. Between “Class” and “Industry Baby,” his collaboration with Lil Nas X that spent 18 weeks on top of the list, Harlow became one of only a handful of artists with two songs that have claimed 10 or more weeks at No. 1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. “Industry Baby,” released in 2021, comes in at No. 6 on the 2022 year-end recap. Harlow and Drake are the only acts with multiple songs in the top 10 of this year’s annual Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs ranking.

Latto’s ‘Big’ Prizes: Elsewhere, Latto cashes in big on several year-end lists, including as the Top New R&B/Hip-Hop Artist. The 23-year-old rapper’s win ends a nine-year gap for a woman to lead the yearly recap, since Iggy Azalea took home top new honors in 2014. The breakout success stems from Latto’s “Big Energy” single, released in September 2021, found its stride in 2022, first by entering the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs’ top 10 in January, topping the chart for two weeks in April and remaining on the list through September, a full year since its release.

Radio support played a pivotal role in the “Big Energy” story, most notably at the rhythmic format. The single clocked 35 weeks in the top 10 of the Rhythmic Airplay chart, the second-most by any song in the chart’s 30-year existence. No surprise then, that “Energy” is the No. 1 title on Rhythmic Airplay Songs for 2022. In addition, it nabs other awards as the year’s top R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Song Sales track and Rap Digital Song Sales, while Latto herself is the Top Female Rap Artist.

“Essence” Is Radio Champ: The Afrobeats genre brings home a big prize on the year-end charts thanks to Wizkid’s “Essence,” featuring Tems, which is No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay Songs. Following its July release and growing buzz on TikTok, the Nigerian acts’ collaboration found quick reception on U.S. airwaves after its radio campaign began, flying to the top of the weekly R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart just eight weeks after its debut. The journey at the top, though, was longer – historically long, in fact. “Essence” clocked 27 weeks at No. 1 on the chart, a tie for the second-longest in the chart’s history, and became the first song to remain in the top 10 for an entire year.

Additional Highlights:

  • As noted, “Essence” wins the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay race and “Big Energy” takes the title for R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Song Sales. The genre’s streaming champ? Kodak Black’s “Super Gremlin.” It managed 13-week conquest of the R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs chart, the longest since Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” ran up 14 frames in 2020.
  • Future takes the crowns for No. 1 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Artist, No. 1 Hot Rap Songs Artist and No. 1 Rap Streaming Songs Artist. One of the rapper’s best – if not the best – years of his career includes silver medals on the year-end charts for Top Rap Albums (I Never Liked You) and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (“Wait for U,” featuring Drake and Tems).
  • A year after being No. 1 on Hot Rap Songwriters, Lil Baby successfully defends his title. This year, though, he ups his collection to also take the prize at No. 1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songwriters, after coming in second place in last year’s standings.

Keith Caulfield