If someone were to ask you which solo artist holds the record for most number-one albums of all time, who would you say? Before you answer, make sure you understand the question – solo artist - not group. Based on number-one albums — not total album sales, number-one songs, etc. Who would you guess? Nope. Not Elvis. At least not anymore. With last week’s The Blueprint: Vol. 3 reaching number-one status on the Billboard chart, the answer is perennial rapper/hip-hop artist Jay-Z.
Now, let’s be clear. This is not an attempt to say Jay-Z is better than Elvis, just something I find extremely interesting. Perhaps even more so, is the fact that with his new album, Jay is now number two all-time (group or solo) behind only The Beatles. That’s right. The top 3:
1. The Beatles – 19 number-one albums
2. Jay-Z – 11
3. Elvis – 10
So your guesses of U2, The Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, and yes, even Elvis would be wrong. Which I believe tells an interesting story about the state of music today. If I re-phrased the above question and asked what current solo artist is number one in terms of number-one albums, would Jay-Z have even made your list? I bet if I had asked which rap artist has the most #1 albums, Mr. Carter would have been #3 or 4 on the list behind 2Pac, Biggie and maybe even another from the rap genre.
We know the music industry is extremely fragmented nowadays, which makes the fact that 11 of Jay-Z’s 12 albums have made it to number-one album status on the charts a staggering feat (compared to Elvis’ 10 out of 90!). With the rap genre being relatively new (compared to rock 'n' roll, country, etc.), it doesn’t seem possible that someone from this group could challenge the almighty Elvis. And if you read posts on the Vibes Blog regularly, you’ll see more than one cry to hip-hop artists to make better albums and not just the occasional one-hit.
Whether you prefer Jay-Z or Elvis, I think we can all agree Jay-Z has had quite the career. And he’s not finished yet.
And one other thing is for sure, if Elvis were still alive today (and I am of course not saying he isn’t), you can bet he’d be starting a media blitz to promote his new album featuring collabos with Rihanna, Kayne West, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney and of course Lil Wayne. All the while pushing his clothing line (The King Fashions – featuring the best rhinestone suits in the market), his new cologne (for that true King essence), his Guitar Hero video game, his brand of Peanut Butter, his own line of hair products and his upcoming world tour. Nobody would be bigger than the King - this we can agree on.
So, why would Jay-Z have 11 out of 12 be #1 while Elvis only had 10 (out of 90)?