8 Biggest One Hit Wonders in Hip-Hop

Sometimes, all it takes is one song.

Videos by American Songwriter

Although legacies in hip-hop, and music in general, are typically built over the course of years with albums, chart-topping singles, and big-time collaborations, every once in a while, a lesser-known artist will skip every step to success and have one of their releases shatter every expectation.

But, after being unrecognized for a long period of time and then immediately finding yourself in the spotlight, it can be difficult to sustain this excellence. Even when your greatest achievement becomes a massive outlier in your catalog, though, the general population still remembers that one moment. Simply put, for one-hit wonders, a three-minute recording can quickly become your entire legacy, whereas other artists build theirs with several different releases.

Here are eight of the most notable one-hit wonders in hip-hop history.

“Ice Ice Baby,” Vanilla Ice (1990)

In August 1990, Vanilla Ice‘s “Ice Ice Baby,” which was first released as a B-side of a two-part single, peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. A song he wrote when he was 16 years old, “Ice Ice Baby” turned Vanilla into an overnight sensation, a transition he struggled with all throughout the ’90s which included drug bouts and suicide attempts.

Later in his life, “Ice Ice Baby” became a double-edged sword for Vanilla, as its career-altering impact also earned the attention of Queen and David Bowie. The bass line of Vanilla’s song borrowed from Queen and Bowie’s 1981 hit “Under Pressure,” as Vanilla was forced to buy the rights to “Under Pressure” to avoid making endless royalty payments.

“This Is Why I’m Hot,” Mims (2006)

New York rapper Mims saw his 2006 commercial debut single “This Is Why I’m Hot” skyrocket to No. 1 on the Hot 100. However, this would evidently become a hard act to follow up, as his subsequent two studio albums in 2007 and 2009 only saw him land two more songs on the chart.

After the wheels fell off his career in the late 2000s, he would spend a decade away from music, most recently putting out his The Lost Recordings project in 2021.

“Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” Silentó (2015)

In the mid-2010s, multiple different songs and rappers introduced a new crop of dance moves to the hip-hop scene. Whether it be the whip, the stanky leg, the dab, the Nae Nae, or the Milly Rock, all these new moves took over the rap scene at this time, and Georgia rapper Silentó had the bright idea to bring them all together.

“Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” released in May 2015, surged to No. 3 on the Hot 100 upon release, with its Watch me whip, now watch me Nae Nae chorus forming an earworm in the minds of almost every American. Although the music video for “Watch Me” has surpassed 1 billion views on YouTube, the song’s creator has not been able to enjoy the success of his life’s greatest achievement.

In 2021, Silentó was charged with murdering his cousin Frederick Rooks, and he is currently awaiting sentencing in DeKalb County Jail in Decatur, Georgia.

“Jump,” Kriss Kross (1992)

Kriss Kross’ February 1992 single “Jump,” which landed at No. 1 on the Hot 100, helped the teenage duo’s eventual debut album Totally Krossed Out also hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Although this success would help them land cameos in music videos from Michael Jackson, TLC, and Run-D.M.C, a sharp decline would soon plague Kriss Kross, and lead to a quick fall-off in popularity.

One-half of the group Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly passed away at the age of 34 in 2013.

“Pop, Lock & Drop It,” Huey (2006)

Missouri rapper Huey’s debut single “Pop, Lock & Drop It,” which included the B-side “Nobody Loves the Hood (feat. Trey Songz),” soared to No. 6 on the Hot 100 in 2007. Even though he was able to secure collaborations with stars like T-Pain, Lloyd, and Juelz Santana later on in his career, “Pop, Lock & Drop It” is still his only song to ever chart.

“Panda,” Desiigner (2015)

Released in December 2015, Desiigner’s “Panda” was nothing short of life-changing. Eventually leading to him signing a deal with Kanye West’s label G.O.O.D. Music two months later, “Panda”‘s I got broads in Atlanta hook put the New York rapper on the map.

West would eventually use a portion of “Panda” in his song “Pt. 2” from his 2016 studio album The Life of Pablo, which reached No. 37 on the Hot 100.

Desiigner is currently in a mental health facility after being charged with indecent exposure on a flight in April.

“Whoomp! (There It Is),” Tag Team (1993)

As with many of the hits on this list, “Whoomp! (There It Is)” served as the debut commercial single for the 1990s Atlanta rap duo Tag Team. With its hook exclaiming the song’s title, “Whoomp! (There It Is)” was able to peak at No. 2 on the Hot 100, Tag Team’s only charting song.

“Teach Me How To Dougie,” Cali Swag District (2010)

In 2010, “Teach Me How To Dougie” by Cali Swag District introduced a brand new dance craze to urban America. Peaking at No. 28 on the Hot 100, the song led to other rappers, athletes, and everyday people busting out a “dougie” at every opportunity.

Originally comprised of four members, Cali Swag District lost its members M-Bone and JayAre in 2011 and 2014 respectively, to gun violence and sickle cell anemia.

Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images

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