With streams now being included in RIAA calculations for album and single sales, platinum plaques are being awarded like youth soccer participation trophies.
On Monday, a list was published via Reddit of the 28 hip-hop singles that have reached 1 million sales through the first six months of 2016, and the list is a window into the past, present and future of hip-hop.
- Desiigner - Panda
- E-40 - U And Dat (feat. T-Pain & Kandi Girl)
- Fat Joe & Remy Ma - All The Way Up (ft. French Montana & Infared)
- Fetty Wap - My Way (ft. Monty)
- Future - Low Life (ft. The Weeknd)
- G Eazy - I Mean It (ft. Remo)
- J . Cole - No Role Modelz
- J. Cole - Wet Dreamz
- Kevin Gates - Really Really
- Kevin Gates - 2 Phones
- Kid Cudi - Just What I Am (ft. King Chip)
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Downtown (ft. Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee & Grandmaster Caz)
- Missy Elliot - Get Ur Freak On
- Missy Elliot - Work It
- Nelly - The Fix (ft. Jeremih)
- N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton
- O.T. Genasis - Coco
- Plies - Shawty (ft. T-Pain)
- Plies - Hypnotized (ft. Akon)
- Plies - Bust It Baby (Part 2) [ft. Ne-Yo]
- Rae Sremmurd - Come Get Her
- Rae Sremmurd - Throw Sum Mo (ft. Nicki Minaj & Young Thug)
- Rae Sremmurd - This Could Be Us
- Tory Lanez - Say It
- Wale - Lotus Flower Bomb (ft. Miguel)
- Wiz Khalifa - We Dem Boyz
- Yo Gotti - Down in the DM
- Young Thug - Best Friend
Some records we would have expected to go platinum: Desiigner’s “Panda” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart so it was only a matter of time before the Def Jam signee got his plaque. Just about any Wiz Khalifa single (see "We Dem Boyz") has a legitimate shot at blowing up, and Fetty Wap’s “My Way” has been inescapable. The success of the N.W.A. biopic predictably breathed new life into “Straight Outta Compton.” The same goes for Missy Elliott who, despite a lengthy and acclaimed 25 year career, gained extra attention from this year’s VH1 Hip-Hop Honors (and likely even more after karaoke with Michelle Obama).
Somewhat surprisingly, though, three Plies records, all of them released between 2007 and 2008, were awarded platinum certification. Stunningly, the rapper born Algernod Lanier Washington has translated major Instagram fame into increased record sales years after reaching his career peak.
In a different environment, O.T. Genasis’ “Coco” would have peaked as an underground hit, or merely received acknowledgement for going viral, but a platinum plaque from the RIAA? Wale’s “Lotus Flower Bomb” is still selling records years later? And no matter how much evidence continues to roll in about Kevin Gates’ huge fan base, his overwhelming success remains surprising.
Both fans and industry professionals have expressed upset about streams now being factored into record sale numbers and those totals translating into gold and platinum certifications. Even Top Dawg, the CEO of TDE, dismissed the plaque Kendrick received for To Pimp A Butterfly earlier this year, since streams were factored in.
There is an argument to made that sales and streams should be measured separately, with separate certifications issued for both, but finally acknowledging the new way that most people currently consume music is still a good start. Now if you'll excuse me, there are some Missy songs I haven't listened to in far too long.
By William Ketchum III, aka @WEKetchum