We’ve all been there. You hear a song that’s really catchy and no matter where you go, that song always seems to be playing. You find out who the artist is, maybe you even download their song (legally of course). Then, before you know it, the months or years have gone by and you never hear anything from that singer or group again. It doesn’t matter what genre or what era you pick, the one-hit wonder has always existed. The hits, themselves, are pretty good and have that way of getting into your head. From A-ha’s ‘Take on Me’ to Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’ to the Baha Men’s ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’ there have been a lot of one-hit wonders over the past 30 years.
In the ‘old days’ before the availability of downloadable songs, you took a gamble by going to the store and hoping that the album you were buying had more than just that one really good song on it. Many times it did not and your $20 did little more than get you that one hit and a bunch of other songs you just skipped. You had fallen victim to the one-hit wonder. Today, things are a little easier with a greater opportunity to sample an artist’s works before paying for them. Nonetheless, the one-hit wonder artists still exist, enticing us with their popular single and disappointing most of us with their other songs.
Now that one of those fine one-hit wonders is firmly playing in your head (you’re welcome), let’s move on to this list. We could create a list of the top 50 one-hit wonders of rap but decided to keep things a little more modern. There’s no room here for Vanilla Ice, Young MC or even The Sugarhill Gang. Yes, they all made great one-hit wonders but this list is going a little more modern. From 2000 onward, we have had our own share of one-hit wonder artists and groups. You may disagree with some of the following, but remember, the criteria for a one-hit wonder is usually the song’s commercial and/or chart success. It’s also important to know that an artist could have other charting hits, however if they become generally known for just one song then they are considered a one-hit wonder. In short, if one song overshadows everything else the musician or group has done then we have ourselves a one-hit wonder. On to the list.
10. Khia – My Neck, My Back (Lick It) (2002)
Sometimes songs have hidden meanings, a deeper message or significant use of metaphors. Khia’s 2002 hit ‘My Neck, My Back’ had none of these. It was a straight up, raunchy ode to oral sex. While recent hits have discussed ‘timber’ or ‘blowing whistles,’ Khia jumped right to the point and left nothing to the imagination. The Philadelphia-born artist’s x-rated song was a big hit in clubs and even received significant airplay, albeit in a censored format. This song has been covered and parodied over the years, perhaps indicating how popular it was. Reaching #12 on the Hot Rap Charts, Khia never achieved the same level of mainstream success with the songs on her follow up albums.
9. Shop Boyz – Party Like a Rockstar (2007)
In the summer of 2007, this one-hit wonder by the Shop Boyz broke into the top 5 on several music charts. The three-man Atlanta-based group had been active since 2004 but only released their inaugural album, Rockstar Mentality, three years later. Mixing rap with guitar riffs from Ozzy Osbourne and making reference to other rockers, this rap hit appealed to a broad range of fans. The song has been remixed and released numerous times since the summer of 2007. Unfortunately for the Shop Boyz, success from this hit was not contagious. The group remains active, yet has never achieved the level of mainstream success experienced in 2007.
8. Joe Budden – Pump It Up (2003)
In 2003, Joe Budden released ‘Pump It Up,’ a song which gained widespread radio play and, as of today, remains Budden’s ticket to one-hit wonder status. The best known and most successful song to come off of Budden’s self-titled inaugural album, ‘Pump It Up’ was further pushed into the mainstream by its use in the film 2 Fast 2 Furious. The song peaked at 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 and did better in England where it reached 13 on the charts. ‘Pump It Up’ was also nominated for several awards, including a Grammy, MOBO, Vibe and Black Reel award. Budden remains active in the hip-hop community and there remains every possibility that he may, one day, find himself off the ‘One-Hit Wonder’ list.
7. Bone Crusher – Never Scared (2003)
Bone Crusher, a.k.a. Wayne Hardnett jr., is another Atlanta based rapper involved in the crunk scene. His 2003 album, AttenCHUN!, spawned one major hit, ‘Never Scared.’ Featuring rappers Killer Mike and T.I., ‘Never Scared’ broke into the top ten of the U.S. R&B and Rap Charts. Its popularity was helped by its use in Madden 04 as well as its use as the Atlanta Braves theme song. Bone Crusher has been unable to replicate the same level of success with his other works. No doubt, the health issues he suffered a couple years after the release of the album played a significant part in delaying work towards another possible hit.
6. YoungBloodZ – Damn! (2003)
If you’ve ever seen comedian Dave Chappelle’s impression of rapper Lil Jon, then it’s likely you can’t ever listen to this song without finding it somewhat amusing. That said, this Atlanta based rap duo scored a big-time hit with the single ‘Damn!,’ off their second album, Drankin’ Patnaz. With Lil Jon peppering the song with his trademark ‘what?’ ‘ya’ and ‘ok,’ YoungBloodZ took this song to #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The momentum could not be maintained with follow up works. Their next hit, ‘Presidential,’ only managed to get to #81 in 2005. Despite their one-hit wonder status, YoungBloodZ made several appearances on the hits of other artists, including Nelly and Lil Jon.
5. Cali Swag District – Teach Me How to Dougie (2010)
Remember the group Los del Rio? No? That’s okay because most people don’t. They were the group that brought us the hit 90s song ‘Macarena’ and showed us all how to do that annoying dance move. There’s just as much chance that the group Cali Swag District will join Los del Rio after teaching us another dance move – the Dougie. ‘Teach Me How to Dougie’ was the top 10 chart breaking hit released by Cali Swag District in 2010. A number of singles have been released since then, however none have come close to the success of this dance-lesson hit. The chance of creating a future hit was made less likely when member M-Bone was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2011 along with JayAre passing away on June 6th from medical complications.
4. J-Kwon – Tipsy (2004)
In 2004, St. Louis’ own J-Kwon, a.k.a Jerrell C. Jones, released the hit ‘Tipsy’ and placed himself into the realm of the one-hit wonders. ‘Tipsy’ was a single off of J-Kwon’s album Hood Hop. The song was so successful that it was even remixed by the likes of Chingy and Murphy Lee. ‘Tipsy’ was milked for every last cent when it became apparent the rest of the album was less popular. In fact, every album released by J-Kwon since 2004 has come nowhere near the #2 chart hitting heights of ‘Tipsy.’ Like his own success, J-Kwon went missing in 2010. Turns out he was just on hiatus to refocus, although it looks less likely with each passing year that he will ever be known for anything other than ‘Tipsy.’
3. Rich Boy – Throw Some D’s (2007)
In 2007, Maurice Richards, a.k.a Rich Boy, informed us all that he had just bought a Cadillac and he was being encouraged to put some Dayton gold spoke rims on it. In all seriousness, ‘Throw Some D’s’ became a major hit off Rich Boy’s self-titled debut album. A former mechanical engineering student from Mobile, Alabama, Richard’s debut album did very well and broke into the top 5 on the domestic charts. The massive single “Throw Some D’s,’ made it to #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and helped to drive album sales. It was a level of success which was not repeated by future releases. Remixed over a dozen times by various artists, with Andre 3000 giving one of his best verses to one of them, ‘Throw Some D’s’ definitely deserves a place on any list concerning one-hit wonders.
2. Afroman – Because I Got High (2000)
It almost felt wrong to like this song. After all, Afroman’s 2000 hit song was about how drug use was disrupting and destroying someone’s life. Maybe it was the rhythm and beat or maybe it was the slightly comical undertone his singing added, but almost everyone loved this song when they heard it. Nonetheless, this song is a certified one-hit wonder. No other single of Afroman’s comes anywhere near this song – most singles, like 11 of his 13 albums, didn’t even chart. ‘Because I Got High’ reached #1 or #2 on most charts around the world. In the United States it peaked at a respectable #13.
1. Chamillionaire – Ridin’ (2006)
You know you’ve made it big when Weird Al Yankovich makes a parody of your song. Perhaps Chamillionaire, a.ka. Hakeem Seriki, realized you don’t get any bigger than Weird Al? While that’s unlikely, ‘Ridin’’ turned out to be this Texan’s only major hit (so far) and reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Some fans may argue he is not a one-hit wonder. True, his other well-known single ‘Turn It Up’ did chart, but the highest it got on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 was a distant #41. As he is CEO of his own entertainment company and has an estimated net-worth of around $15 million, we imagine Chamillionaire is not overly upset at the possibility of being labelled a one-hit wonder.