Lots of fresh faces in the rap game broke out this year — and I’m not talking about acne. Lil Nas X graced the most recent cover of Billboard after he kept a historic 19-week streak topping the Billboard Hot 100 with “Old Town Road,” while his fellow cover star Lizzo has been holding down the No. 1 spot for the last three weeks with “Truth Hurts.”
Another rapper who kept it hot all “hot girl summer” long was Megan Thee Stallion, who got her first Hot 100 chart entry with “Big Ole Freak.” These rappers-turned-meme lords have spurred so much buzz with their not-so-new hits — the first of many “Old Town Road” renditions came out in December 2018, “Truth Hurts” was first released in Sept. 2017 and “Big Ole Freak” is from June 2018 — from viral meme marketing.
Online challenges (tagging #BigOleFreakChallenge, the DNA test meme and every single “Old Town Road” TikTok dance) and a pivotal placement in the Netflix rom-com, Someone Great, where actress Gina Rodriguez belts Lizzo’s No. 1 hit, have accounted for these artists’ biggest breaks in 2019.
North Carolina MC DaBaby is another breakout in the genre, snagging his first Hot 100 (and top 10) entry with “Suge,” which peaked at No. 7. He’s collaborated with Megan Thee Stallion on “Cash Shit” and Lil Nas X on the first (of 25) “Panini” remixes. Hailing from the Bay Area, Saweetie had her single “My Type” trending on TikTok as it debuted at No. 87 on the Hot 100 last July, making it her first entry on the chart, too. She joins Megan Thee Stallion and Lizzo as the seventh female rapper to enter the chart just this year.