Jill Scott and Tyrese, Two #1 Albums, Get No Top 40 Radio Airplay
When Tyrese cried racism about his #1 album Black Rose getting no love on Top 40 radio, he was largely ignored. After all, R&B music has been on the outs for awhile now, and one surprisingly successful album wasn’t changing that. But now that Jill Scott’s WOMAN has also debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, once again with zero Top 40 radio support, how long can this mismatch be ignored?
Just a quick Google search of Mediabase (the entity that tracks radio airplay) and Tyrese’s name shows that he has no presence in Top 40 radio. The same goes for Jill Scott. But flip over to the R&B charts, and you’ll see that Tyrese and Jill Scott are perched in the top 3. So, topping both the R&B radio airplay charts and the album sales chart aren’t enough to get even the smallest bit of Top 40 love?
On the surface, it’s easy enough to understand. Tyrese and Jill Scott don’t make “pop” music, so their tracks aren’t expected to get rotation on Top 40 radio. Except, Top 40 radio isn’t supposed to be defined by music genre. It is supposed to be defined by what is popular. It is supposed to be defined by demand. Top 40 is supposed to play the music that people want to hear.
But radio’s relationship with consumers has been perverted.
Years-old songs from Taylor Swift are more at home on Top 40 radio than Tyrese’s “Shame” of Jill Scott’s “Fool’s Gold.” Why? Well, it’s not because they are Black. Radio isn’t that racist (see TheWeeknd’s outrageous success). But they do make Black music. And just like Black cinema, that stuff is clearly only meant for Black people.
Now, certain types of listeners (usually White) are deciding what is popular, even when the Billboard charts show otherwise. And unfortunately for the artists, there is a serious financial fallout from this favoritism. Top 40 spins equal the highest amount of exposure. There is a difference of thousands of plays from chart to chart. Take Jidenna’s “Classic Man” for example. Posted at #33 on the Top 40 chart, he is receiving more spins weekly than the #1 song on the R&B chart (a chart he didn’t even make the cut for by the way). Bottom line: Less plays equal less exposure which cuts both an artist’s ability to sell records now and create long-standing fans.
Tyrese has been making a big ruckus about being ignored by Top 40, reaching out personally to radio personalities like Ryan Seacrest and staging a “For The Fans” concert in front of iHeartRadio. But honestly, it is all for naught. Because in digesting all this information, one thing is certain: Top 40 radio is not checking for traditional R&B music. And maybe it’s time we stopped thinking that it ever will.
What other artists are you surprised to see in or our of the Top 40 play cycle?
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