12 Hip-Hop Releases Archived in the Library of Congress

Hip-hop has come a long way. Birthed in the gritty streets of the Bronx in the late 70s, the once frown-upon genre is now a global phenomenon. Hip-hop has earned respect in the streets, on the charts, in boardrooms and even from the Library of Congress.

Easily one of the largest libraries in the world, the LOC acts as the US’ national library and is the oldest federal cultural institution in the country. Audio recordings including everything from iconic speeches by ​​American icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt to podcast episodes featuring the world’s greatest comedians to game-changing hip-hop releases are also archived by the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry archives “audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage.” There are about 600 musical recordings that were released between 1921 and 2010 that are a part of LOC’s National Recording Registry. Although there are thousands of songs nominated, only 25 new entries are archived every year.

The National Recording Registry houses a diverse collection of musical recordings that span across popular genres such as rock, pop, r&b, country, latin and hip-hop. This year’s group of iconic LOC entries includes classic creations from Wu Tang Clan and Tribe Called Quest. Tribe and the Wu are just the latest rap acts to make the list. Back in 2004, Public Enemy became the first hip-hop act featured in the Library of Congress after their Fear of a Black Planet album was added to the National Recording Registry. Since then, several more rap albums and songs have been included. Here’s a look at the 12 hip-hop releases that have been archived in the Library of Congress.

A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘The Low End Theory’

Released: 1991

Added to LOC: 2022

The Low End Theory  is an undisputed classic. With production mostly handled by Q-Tip, the 14-track album blurred the lines between hip-hop and jazz and further carved out a lane for what some have called alternative hip-hop. The platinum-selling album which Rolling Stone Magazine listed as one of the 50 Greatest Albums of All Time influenced game-changing artists from Kanye West to Kendrick Lamar to Jill Scott to Dr. Dre and so many others.

Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’

Released: 1993

Added to LOC: 2022

Wu-Tang is forever. The squad originally consisting of RZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Masta Killa made that clear with their debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The timeless album helped pave the way for the likes of the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and many other legendary rap stars. The album featuring classic tracks like  “Protect Ya Neck,” “Method Man,”  and “C.R.E.A.M.” helped bring east coast rap back at a time when the west coast had things on lock.

Nas’ ‘Illmatic’

Released: 1994

Added to LOC: 2020

Illmatic is revered as one of the greatest albums ever. Not only was it the foundation for Nas to become a hip-hop G.O.A.T., it also established the Queens-bred MC as one of the greatest wordsmiths of his generation.

Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’

Released: 1992

Added to LOC: 2019

After severing ties with N.W.A. and Ruthless Records, Dr. Dre launched Death Row Records along with Suge Knight. The first major release from the newly formed label was Dre’s solo debut, The Chronic. Upon its release, the album spent eight months in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart. It also jump-started the career of a young rapper by the name of Snoop Doggy Dogg and introduced the hip-hop subgenre of G-funk to the masses. 

Jay-Z’s ‘The Blueprint’

Released: 2001

Added to LOC: 2018 Jay-Z’s sixth solo album further cemented the Brooklyn MC as the reigning King of New York. Released on a date that will forever be remembered in infamy, September 11th 2001, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spawned the hits “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and “Song Cry.” The album, credited with sparking the resurgence of soul-sampled rap music, featured production from at the time emerging producers Kanye West and Just Blaze. The Blueprint also houses one of the greatest diss tracks of all time, “Takeover.”

Run-DMC’s ‘Raising Hell’

Released: 1986

Added to LOC: 2017

Run-DMC turned up the heat with Raising Hell. Hip-hop’s first bonafide superstars were on top of the world with the release of their third album. From having chart-topping hits to securing major brand endorsements, the trio from Hollis, Queens showcased the crossover potential of hip-hop. During Raising Hell’s historic run, the album became the first platinum and multi-platinum rap album, the first rap album to peak at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums charts and featured the first rap song (“Walk This Way” with Aerosmith) to peak in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100.

NWA’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’

Released: 1988

Added to LOC: 2016

With the release of Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A became not only “the world’s most dangerous group,” but also one of hip-hop’s most impactful groups. The debut album from the gangsta rap group comprised of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, The D.O.C. offered vivid depictions of life on the streets of Compton. Although the controversial album was banned from being played on many radio stations throughout the country, the singles “Straight Outta Compton” and “Express Yourself” still managed to push the album to the platinum mark. In 2016, Straight Outta Compton became the first hip-hop album inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”

Released: 1979

Added to LOC: 2011

Where would hip-hop be if it wasn’t for Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”? The international hit has been credited with being the first piece of rap music to break through to the mainstream.

De La Soul’s ‘3 Feet High and Rising’

Released: 1989

Added to LOC: 2010

Hip-hop group De La Soul landed on the scene with 3 Feet High and Rising. At a time when the gangsta rap of the west coast was reigning supreme, the Long Island trio’s debut album helped set the tone for a more vibey, less aggressive alternative to popular rap music.

Public Enemy’s ‘Fear of a Black Planet’

Released: 1990

Added to LOC: 2004

Public Enemy shook things up with Fear of a Black Planet. The third album from the legendary group fronted by Chuck D and ​​Flavor Flav delivered an authentic in-your-face perspective on everything from race relations of the time, Black empowerment and many of the social issues that are still plaguing minority communities in America to this day. The album featuring the singles “Fight the Power” and “911 Is a Joke,” is considered to be one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.


19 Rap Songs that Debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100

TikTok does it again! The popular social networking platform has helped catapult another song to the top of the Billboard charts. After a snippet of Jack Harlow’s latest single, “First Class” trended on TikTok, the full version upon its official release (April 8th) debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The second single from his upcoming album, Come Home the Kids Miss You has been making noise outside of Tiktok also. With more than 10.6 million streams in the first 24 hours of its release, the single that samples Fergie’s Ludacris-assisted No. 1 hit “Glamorous” had one of the biggest single-day streams of the year on Spotify’s global chart. Currently the fastest selling single of 2022, the Louisville, Kentucky native’s latest hit moved more than 420,000 units in its opening week.

In the history of the Billboard Hot 100, there have been 17 hip-hop songs that have debuted on top of the chart. These songs represent some of the biggest hits in hip-hop history. This significant achievement is a testament to not only how dope the songs are, but also the popularity of the artists (and producers) and behind them. Once a rare feat, debuting in the top spot has become more and more frequent over the last few years. There were 10 songs released since 2017 alone that spent their first week on Billboard’s singles chart in the No. 1 position. Drake has dropped several first-week-chart-toppers and so has Travis Scott. Here’s a look at all of the hip-hop hits that have debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Jimmy Cooks” by Drake featuring 21 Savage

Debut Date: June 27, 2022

  • “Wait For U” by Future featuring Drake & Tems

Debut Date: May 9, 2022

Future landed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the eight time with I Never Liked You. The album features tracks with Kanye West, Gunna and Young Thug. Pluto’s ninth album also features the Drake and Tems-assisted single, “Wait For U,” which also debuted in the top spot on the Billboard charts. The video for the song that topped the Billboard Hot 100 within seven days of its release racked up 5.7 million views in just four days.

  • “First Class” by Jack Harlow

Debut Date: April 18, 2022

Jack Harlow has another smash hit on his hands. “First Class” is receiving love from all around the world. The song debuted at No. 1 in the US, as well as in New Zealand and Australia. It also debuted at No. 2 in several countries including the UK, Germany and Ireland.

  • “Way 2 Sexy” by Drake featuring Future and Young Thug

Debut Date: September 18, 2021

The first official single from Drake’s Certified Lover Boy claimed the top spot on the Hot 100 after a massive streaming week “Way 2 Sexy” led the way on the single’s chart, while nine other CLB tracks occupied the top 10 slots on the chart, making Drizzy the first artist in history to do so. “Way 2 Sexy” became the 6 God’s ninth number-one and extended his reign as the rap star with the most No. 1 songs in history.

  • “Rapstar” by Polo G

Debut Date: April 24, 2021

Polo G is leading the way as one of hip-hop’s next undisputed superstars. He further cemented his status in the game with “Rapstar,” his first Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper. With more than 77.7 million streams in its first seven days, the lead single to Polo’s first No. 1 album, Hall Of Fame, became an instant hit. 

  • “What’s Next” by Drake

Debut Date: March 20, 2021

If in 2021, you wondered what was next for Drake, he had an answer for you: more hits! “What’s Next,” the lead single for his three-track, Scary Hours 2 ep, conquered the Hot 100 immediately after its release. While the high energy track landed at No. 1, the accompanying tracks “Wants and Needs,” featuring Lil Baby and the Rick Ross-assisted “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” occupied the No. 2 and 3 spots. Drake became the first artist ever to have three singles debut in the top three positions of the Hot 100.

  • “Franchise” by Travis Scott featuring Young Thug and MIA

Debut Date: Oct. 10, 2020

Travis Scott has been a franchise player for a while. The Cactus Jack head honcho was assisted by all stars Young Thug and MIA for “Franchise,” his third number-one debut. The hit single was at the time supposed to be the lead single for Scott’s fifth solo album, Utopia. Scott is the only artist to have three songs debut at number-one in less than a year.

  • “WAP” by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion

Debut Date: Aug. 22, 2020

What happens when two of the biggest female rappers of the moment come together? Well, when Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion connected for “WAP,” they almost broke the internet. Their bass heavy, sex-positive Balitimore club-inspired banger spent four week on top of the Billboard Hot 100. With the immediate success of “WAP,” Cardi became the first female rapper to chart a No. 1 in two decades. “WAP” was her fourth and Megan’s second chart-topping single.

  • “Trollz” by 6ix9ine & Nicki Minaj

Debut Date: June 27, 2020

Controversy sells and the career of 6ix9ine has been proof. For his single, the infamous rapper linked up with Nicki Minaj for a third time. The combination of controversy and lots of hype resulted in the tandems’ track debuting at No. 1. The track only spent four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

  • “The Scotts” by Travis Scott & Kid Cudi

Debut Date: May 9, 2020

The legend known as Kid Cudi made his first appearance on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “The Scott’s,” the 2020 collab between him and Travis Scott. Following the huge debut of the single produced by Take A Daytrip, Dot da Genius and Plain Pat, Scott became one of only six artists in history to have multiple songs debut at No. 1.

  • “Toosie Slide” by Drake

Debut Date: April 18, 2020

“Toosie Slide” became Drake’s third number-one debut on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as his seventh chart-topping song. The song named after social influencer, Toosie was the lead single from Drizzy’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes mixtape.

  • “Highest In The Room” by Travis Scott

Debut Date: Oct. 19, 2019

The 2019 single brought in 59 million streams in its first week and was remixed by Lil Baby and Latin star Rosalia.

  • “This Is America” by Childish Gambino

Debut Date: May 19, 2018

“This Is America” was the 31st song to spend its opening week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also Childish Gambino’s first chart-topping and top ten single. It went on to win four Grammy Awards, including Best Rap/Sung Performance, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Music Video. “This Is America” became the first rap song to take home the Grammy trophies for both Record and Song of the Year.

  • “Nice for What” by Drake

Debut Date: April 21, 2018

An ode to the independent women out there, “Nice for What” contained a sample of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor,” as well as vocals from Big Freedia. Upon its debut, it replaced “God’s Plan” in the No. 1 spot, making Drake the first artist in history to replace one No.1 debut with another No.1 debut. The hit song held down the top spot on Billboard’s single charts for eight nonconsecutive weeks.

  • “God’s Plan” by Drake

Debut Date: February 3, 2018

Drake seemingly had a plan when it came to his 2018 album Scorpion. That plan was to rule the charts. “God’s Plan” was the first of several Scorpion singles that topped the Billboard Hot 100. The Grammy Award-winning song broke first-day streaming records on Spotify, as well as on Apple Music and became the most streamed song of 2018 for both Spotify and Apple Music.

  • “I’m The One” by DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne

Debut Date: May 20, 2017

DJ Khaled told us he had been grinding all his life. With “I’m The One,” the second single from his tenth album, Grateful, he finally reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song which has been streamed more than a billion times on Spotify also debuted in the top position on the UK Singles Chart.

  • “Not Afraid” by Eminem

Debut Date: May 22, 2010

What hasn’t Eminem done? The megastar rapper broke several records through his lengthy career. His 2010 single was the first rap song in about 12 years to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Boi-1da-co-produced track became Em’s second certified diamond single.

  • “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill

Debut Date: November 14, 1998

One of the G.O.A.T. female rappers, Lauryn Hill shook up the game when she released her debut solo single, “Doo Wop (That Thing).” The lead single from her debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill became the first debut single to top the Hot 100 in its opening week. The two-time Grammy Award-winning song is also the first song by a female rapper to hit No. 1.

  • “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy & Faith Evans Featuring 112

Debut Date: June 14, 1997

The first rap song to debut on top of the Billboard Hot 100 was a tribute to the late and great Notorious B.I.G. “I’ll Be Missing You” featured Biggie’s wife Faith, as well as Bad Boy crooners 112. In the US, the single spent 11 weeks at No. 1, while it also landed in the top position in 15 countries around the world. To date, the Grammy Award-winning single is one of the top-selling songs of all time.