10 of the most beloved one-hit wonders in hip hop that continue to be enjoyed today, from The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”.
Hip hop music has come a long way since its inception in the Bronx in the late 1970s. Over the years, the genre has produced countless hit songs and legendary artists who have left an indelible mark on music history. However, among the many successful hip hop artists, a few have managed to score a massive hit but never quite replicated that level of success. These one-hit wonders have become beloved classics that continue to be played and enjoyed today.
Whether you’re a diehard fan of this music genre or not, we’re gonna place all our bets that you’ve at least heard all the listed songs - at least once. Not only that, we’re pretty sure you’ll find yourself bobbing your head to these sick tunes. After all, music is ingrained in our lives, and we listen to it when working, cooking, exercising, and even playing a fun game found at some of the best South African casinos.
So let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at the 10 one-hit hip hop wonders we still love today.
1. “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang
“Rapper’s Delight” is arguably the most famous one-hit wonder in hip hop history. Released in 1979, the song was the first hip hop track to hit the mainstream charts and helped to popularize the genre. The catchy beat and infectious lyrics made it an instant classic, and it continues to be played on the radio to this day.
2. "Jump" by Kris Kross
Kris Kross burst onto the scene in 1992 with their hit single “Jump.” The song became an instant sensation and topped the charts in several countries. While the duo released a few more albums, they never quite replicated the success of “Jump.”
3. “Bust a Move” by Young MC
Young MC’s “Bust a Move” was a massive hit in 1989 and earned the rapper a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance. The song’s catchy hook and danceable beat made it a favorite at parties and clubs, and it continues to be played on old-school hip hop stations today.
4. “Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team
“Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team was released in 1993 and quickly became a club and radio favorite. The song’s simple, repetitive lyrics and catchy beat made it an instant classic and earned the duo a spot on numerous “best of” hip hop lists.
5. “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice
Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” was a massive hit back in 1990 and remains one of the most recognizable hip hop songs of all time. The song, which samples Queen’s “Under Pressure,” was a commercial success, but Vanilla Ice struggled to maintain his popularity and faded from the limelight after a few more albums.
6. “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer
MC Hammer’s famous “U Can’t Touch This” was a massive hit in 1990 and helped to popularize the use of sampling in hip hop. The song’s catchy hook and Hammer’s signature dance moves made it an instant classic, and the accompanying music video is still a favorite on YouTube today.
7. “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by Silento
The 2015 hip hop hit by Silento, “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” incorporated two popular dance moves into a mainstream song to create a dance craze. The song’s catchy beat and simple dance moves made it an instant viral sensation, and the music video has amassed over a billion views on YouTube. Silento won the Billboard award for top streaming songs that year, beating out artists like Justin Bieber, Desiigner, and Taylor Swift. While Silento hasn’t had another hit quite as big as “Watch Me,” possibly due to recent murder allegations, the song remains a beloved classic and a staple at parties and events.
8. “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot
Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” was a huge hit in 1992 and remains one of the most recognizable hip hop songs of all time. The song’s catchy hook and cheeky lyrics about women’s bodies made it a controversial track, but it also earned the rapper a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
9. “Can I Kick It” by A Tribe Called Quest
Back in 1990, Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” helped to establish the group as one of the most important and influential entities in hip hop. The song features a sample from Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” and its laid-back beat and positive lyrics helped to set it apart from the more aggressive and confrontational songs that were popular at the time. While A Tribe Called Quest went on to have several more successful albums and hits, “Can I Kick It?” remains a beloved classic and a testament to the group’s enduring legacy in hip hop.
10. “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X
“Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X was not just a huge hit, but it was significant in helping to break down barriers between country and hip hop. The song features a catchy beat and infectious lyrics that blend traditional country themes with contemporary hip hop influences. The song’s success was fueled in part by its popularity on the social media app TikTok, where users created videos showcasing the song’s catchy dance moves. “Old Town Road” spent a record-breaking 19 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has become a cultural phenomenon, earning Lil Nas X numerous awards and nominations and solidifying his place as one of the most innovative and exciting artists in contemporary hip hop.
In conclusion, one-hit wonders have always been an interesting aspect of hip hop music. Despite not having a sustained career or numerous hits, these artists have left an indelible mark on the genre with their catchy beats, infectious lyrics, and ultimately memorable performances. Sure, they may not have stayed at the top of the charts, but their music has stood the test of time and continues to be a part of hip hop’s rich legacy.