Rappers have racked up platinum album after platinum album, but the One Billion Video Views Club has been an exclusive institution that's never let any rappers in.
You might see Taylor Swift mingling with PSY, Meghan Trainor showing Justin Bieber why she’s all about the bass, Katy Perry getting next to Enrique Iglesias, but never a rapper to be found. That is, until today.
Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again,” a tribute to Paul Walker found on the Furious 7 soundtrack, has just amassed one billion views. At the time of this writing, the exact number is 1,004,850,300. This total bests any video that Eminem, JAY Z, Macklemore, Drake, Lil Wayne, and countless others have dropped.
“See You Again” was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, non-consecutively, for 12 weeks (but it’s been in the top ten for 19). This tied Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” for the longest running rap number-one hit and it broke the record for most single streams in one day in the United States with over 4.2 million on April 13, 2015. Oh, and over three million copies have been sold. This record is arguably the biggest record of the year.
The popularity of the record is easy to track back to its inclusion in Furious 7 during the final scene/end credits. It served as a fitting tribute for Paul Walker, who sadly was killed in an automobile accident nearly two years ago, on November 30. Not only that, but when you listen to “See You Again” you get a sense of relate-ability. Singer Charlie Puth’s hook mixed in with Khalifa’s verses has touched listeners. More than just Paul Walker, many individuals can place this song in their own lives and losing someone close to them.
Being able to see who receives what awards and reaches which milestones in the digital era is exciting. Nobody in a million years thought Wiz Khalifa would be the first hip-hop artist to hit a billion YouTube views with a single set of visuals. The smart money would have been placed on Drake, who has been setting records left and right. And in an era where one huge video can mean more to a career than an album, Wiz just took a step into the next echelon of rap.
Khalifa was the first, but the way hip-hop is continuing to grow, we know he won’t be the last.