Cardi B has officially dethroned Taylor Swift, as “Bodak Yellow” — Cardi’s pure cut swagger of a rap anthem — has taken over the No. 1 spot, displacing Swift’s pop tantrum “Look What You Made Me Do” on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
There are a few reasons why this is such a significant piece of news. For one, Cardi B has gone from the most entertaining breakout star of the VH1 reality show Love & Hip Hop to chart-topping rapper in under two years. For another, she’s now the first solo female rapper to reach this height since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” debuted at No. 1 in 1998, or almost 20 years ago.
If this stat surprises you — what about Nicki Minaj or Missy Elliott?! — the way Billboard calculates its Hot 100 rankings comes down to Nielsen’s measurements of streaming plays, sales, and crucially, radio play. “Bodak Yellow” exploded in all three areas almost immediately; in just the past week, Billboard reports that the song’s streaming plays increased by 14 percent. As a result, 11 weeks later, “Bodak Yellow” has knocked Swift out of the top spot.
The chart showdown between Cardi and Swift is, in fact, something both their fan bases are all too aware of, especially when “Look What You Made Me Do” was discounted to buy on iTunes for 69 cents as Cardi B closed in last week.
It’s also notable that Cardi B managed to dethrone Swift after literally everything about the rollout for “Look What You Made Me Do” rollout aimed to get it to the No. 1 spot, and stay there for as long as possible. If Swift’s fans stream and buy the song, they earn the opportunity to get better concert tickets. The very day after “Look What You Made Me Do” dropped, it was folded into ABC’s TGIT promotional advertising and packaged on ESPN to become part of college football’s dominant soundtrack. It was everywhere, and it was there by meticulous corporate design — and Cardi B, who only recently signed onto a record label, has now managed to best it anyway.