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Shaboozey's slow-burning hybrid of hip-hop and country is finally the biggest song in the land

Shaboozey performs during the 2024 BET Awards in Los Angeles in June 2024.
Michael Tran
/
Getty Images
Shaboozey performs during the 2024 BET Awards in Los Angeles in June 2024.

Country rapper and singer Shaboozey has plenty of reasons to celebrate right now. After Beyoncé included him as a guest artist on two songs from her album Cowboy Carter earlier this year, he used that clout to pull himself squarely into the limelight. And now he’s become a pathbreaker as a Black country artist, shaping his career on his own terms.

Top songs

After months of simmering popularity and already having scaled Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, Shaboozey's "A Bar Song (Tipsy)" has finally reached the peak of the Billboard Hot 100, making the Virginia singer the first Black male artist to have reached the highest rung on both charts. (The only other Black artist to do so is his collaborator Beyoncé, who achieved the same feat earlier this year with her song "Texas Hold 'Em.")

Since its release in April, “A Bar Song (Tipsy)” has been quietly but steadily making its way up the Top 10 to reach this apex. In Shaboozey's windup to this success, it's hard not to juxtapose his experiences as a Black country artist of Nigerian heritage to underheralded Black country artists of other generations, like the late Charley Pride and Linda Martell. Shaboozey’s breakthrough came when Beyoncé featured him on the songs “Sweet*Honey*Buckiin' ” and “Spaghettii” — the latter also featuring Martell.

While in 1966 Pride's record label made a point of sending out his music to radio stations with no promotional photos of him, Shaboozey's video trailer for his album Where I'm Going, Isn't Where I've Been takes direct aim at country music gatekeepers. (As Shaboozey told NPR's All Things Considered in May, "Music needs to change, and it needs to progress into different things," adding: "When you see my name and you see me, you're, like — you're kind of confused."

The rest of the Top 5 on the songs chart will undoubtedly be very familiar to chart watchers, with last week’s top song: Post Malone's "I Had Some Help," featuring Morgan Wallen, at No. 2, Kendrick Lamar's "Not Like Us" at No. 3, Sabrina Carpenter's "Espresso" at No. 4 and Tommy Richman's "Million Dollar Baby" at No. 5. All of these songs have been hovering at or near the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for months — think of this chart like a heatwave with no end in sight.

The lone newcomer within the Top 10 is Chappell Roan's "Good Luck, Babe!", which has finally cracked the upper echelon of the Billboard Hot 100. It now sits in 10th place, after having been on the chart for 13 weeks — another slow-burning success in the making, perhaps?

Top albums

In case anyone had any doubts about the chart supremacy of Taylor Swift's The Tortured Poets Department, its longevity speaks for itself. Now in its 11th week atop the Billboard 200 albums chart, Tortured Poets has matched two other Swift albums (1989 and Fearless) for her longest-running albums at No. 1.

Meanwhile, Megan Thee Stallion's latest album, Megan, enters the chart in the third spot, while Roan's The Rise and Fall of a Midwestern Princess has moved up one notch from last week to the fifth spot. Wallen's own chart fixture, One Thing at a Time (in its 70th week on the Billboard 200) held on at No. 2, and Billie Eilish's Hit Me Hard and Soft stays at No. 4. That means that female artists have claimed four of the five top album spots, which is still a rare enough occurrence to be something of note. The last time so many female artists hit those heights was over a year ago, as Billboard observes.

A little further down, Beyoncé's Cowboy Carter returns to the Top 10 — springing up from last week's place at No. 50 to No. 10 — thanks to the release this week of a deluxe vinyl edition. (Everybody is playing the "variant" game these days … even Bey.)

Worth noting

Here’s a Billboard chart with a particularly ungainly name: the Billboard Global Excl. US. Established just four years ago, it tracks the popularity of songs in 200 territories around the world, not including the U.S., by online sales and streaming.

Given the global homogeny of the music industry in 2024, this chart often looks quite a bit like its American and U.K. kin (Carpenter, Eilish, Hozier et al.) Occasionally, though, songs and artists pop up to remind us that there is still some room for more diffused tastes, even within the aesthetic confines of popular music.

This week's example of that is the success of the solo artist LISA, who debuted this week at No. 1 on this chart with her song "Rockstar."

LISA (whose stage name demands all capital letters) is a Thai-born rapper and singer who rocketed to worldwide fame as a member of the South Korean girl group BLACKPINK (again with the all caps). Still, she’s markedly less famous among American music fans: This week, "Rockstar" only went to No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100, which measures sales, streams and radio play within the U.S.

But her visibility to American audiences may be on the upswing: It's just been announced that LISA will perform what is being billed as her first big American solo performance at the Global Citizen Festival in New York in September, joining a headliners lineup that also includes Post Malone and Doja Cat. Such an appearance doesn’t guarantee her mainstream success in the U.S., but it’s still a hat tip to her importance abroad.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.