Radio Hits One: Lil Wayne Tops The Chart Ubiquity Index
This week "How To Love," the third single from Lil Wayne's forthcoming (if delayed) album Tha Carter IV, debuts on several Billboard charts, including bows at No. 69 on the Hot 100 and No. 50 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. "How To Love" is also the 15th song by or featuring Lil Wayne to appear on a Billboard chart this week; on the R&B chart alone, he's on 12% of the entries in the top 100, and he appears on three songs in that chart's top ten that include its current No. 1, Kelly Rowland's "Motivation." Put simply, Wayne is everywhere.
"How To Love" is Tha Carter IV's R&B-flavored "crossover" single following the more straightforward rap singles "6 Foot 7 Foot" and "John"; think of it as IV's promotional equivalent of "Lollipop," the multi-format smash that helped Tha Carter III join the Million-Weeker Club in 2008. At the time, Lil Wayne was capitalizing on years of buzz building, having given away albums' worth of music on mixtapes and appeared on countless hits by other artists. Guest verses have been commonplace in hip-hop for decades and were a measure of a rapper's starpower for years before Wayne's ascent, but he took the practice to a whole new level. Where previous superstars like Jay-Z or 50 Cent often appeared on multiple hits at the same time at the peak of their careers, they were still somewhat selective about who they worked with, sticking mainly with labelmates and other stars of their caliber. Wayne, on the other hand, has been open about giving 16 bars to pretty much anyone willing to cut him a check.
Lil Wayne has appeared on at least a dozen songs that made the Billboard singles charts every year since 2006, and in 2008 and 2009 that number skyrocketed well past 30. 2010 was an off year by Wayne's standards, mainly because he spent eight months on Rikers. By any other artist's standards, though, he was prolific; he released two gold-selling stopgap albums, the critically reviled "rock" album Rebirth and I Am Not A Human Being. The latter yielded two radio hits while Wayne was locked up, while more guest apperances on singles by Drake, Eminem, and Wayne's Young Money Entertainment crew kept him on the radio.
So when Wayne was released from prison last November, he didn't have to do much to recapture his ubiquity. He hit the studio almost immediately and churned out "6 Foot 7 Foot" and several of the collaborations now on the charts. Half a year later, he's reached perhaps his greatest Billboard saturation point yet. For lack of any preexisting term to describe this achievement, I'll call it the Chart Ubiquity Index and rank Wayne at No. 1.