The Hot R&B/Hip-Hop/Rap Songs is a record chart that ranks the most popular R&B and hip hop songs in the United States and is published weekly by Billboard. Rankings are based on a measure of radio airplay, sales data, and streaming activity. The chart had 100 positions but was shortened to 50 positions in October 2012.
The chart is used to track the success of popular music songs in urban, or primarily African American, venues. Dominated over the years at various times by jazz, rhythm and blues, doo-wop, rock and roll, soul, and funk, it is today dominated by contemporary R&B and hip hop. Since its inception, the chart has changed its name many times in order to accurately reflect the industry at the time.
Between 1948 and 1955, there were separate charts published for Best Sellers and Juke Box plays, and in 1955 a third chart was added, the Jockeys chart based on radio airplay. These three charts were consolidated into a single R&B chart in October 1958.
From November 30, 1963, to January 23, 1965, there were no Billboard R&B singles charts. The chart was discontinued in late 1963 when Billboard determined it unnecessary due to so much crossover of titles between the R&B and pop charts in light of the rise of Motown. The chart was reinstated with the issue dated January 30, 1965, as "Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles" when differences in musical tastes of the two audiences, caused in part by the British Invasion in 1964, were deemed sufficient to revive it.
Beginning August 23, 1969, the rhythm and blues was replaced in favor of "soul", and the chart was renamed to "Best Selling Soul Singles". The move was made by a Billboard editorial decision that the term "soul" more accurately accounted for the "broad range of song and instrumental material which derives from the musical genius of the black American". In late June 1982, the chart was renamed again, this time to "Black Singles" because the music that African-Americans were buying and listening to had a "greater stylistic variety than the soul sound" of the early 1970s. Black Singles was deemed an acceptable term to encompass pop, funk, and early rap music popular in urban communities.
R&B returned to the name of the chart in 1990, and hip hop was introduced to the title in the issue dated December 11, 1999, when Billboard changed the name to "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks" to recognize the influence and relationship of hip hop to the genre. Shortly after that time, the crossover of R&B titles on pop charts was so significant that all Top Ten songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on October 11, 2003 were by black artists. The lengthy title was shortened to "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs" on April 30, 2005. The chart's methodology was changed starting with the October 20, 2012 issue to match that of the Billboard Hot 100, incorporating digital downloads and streaming data (R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Songs) and combining it with airplay of R&B and hip-hop songs across all radio formats (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay) to determine song position, along with the chart also being shortened to 50 positions.
|October 1942 – February 1945||The Harlem Hit Parade|
|February 1945 – June 1949||Race Records|
|June 1949 – October 1958||Rhythm & Blues Records (two or three separate charts—see above)|
|October 1958 – October 1962||Hot R&B Sides|
|November 1962 – November 1963||Hot R&B Singles|
|November 1963 – January 1965||No chart published (see above)|
|January 1965 – August 1969||Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles|
|August 1969 – July 1973||Best Selling Soul Singles|
|July 1973 – June 1982||Hot Soul Singles|
|June 1982 – October 1990||Hot Black Singles|
|October 1990 – January 1999||Hot R&B Singles|
|January 1999 – December 1999||Hot R&B Singles & Tracks|
|December 1999 – April 2005||Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks|
|April 2005 – present||Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs|
The Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles is a chart composed of 25 positions that represent songs that are making progress to chart on the main R&B/hip-hop chart. Many times, singles halt their progress at this chart and never debut on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart can also be seen as a 25 position quasi-addendum to the chart, since the chart represents the 25 songs below position number 50 that have not previously appeared on the main chart.