Cardi B's Next Step: What Rappers In The Past Have Done After A Breakthrough Single

Written By Sam Murphy on 11/01/2017

Getting a number one single as a relatively new artist is a strange place to be in. On one hand there's the celebration that comes with nabbing that spot but then there's the pressure to capitalise on the hype.

The move following that can either make or break your career and that's the place Cardi B finds herself in right now. She spent three weeks up top with Bodak Yellow and is on the tip of everyone's tongue right now. She's followed it up with features on songs by G-Eazy and Migos (MotorSport also included Nicki Minaj) but she's yet to drop an official solo follow-up. There are rumours that Beyoncé is hopping on the track but they have been denied by Cardi herself and while she promised the follow-up in October, it's still yet to arrive.

Below, we're looking at what rappers did immediately following their breakout hits and whether it worked for them or not.

Iggy Azalea

After years of rapping on mixtapes and a handful of major label singles under the guidance of T.I., it all fell in place for the Aussie rapper from Mullumbimby in 2013 when she hit number one with the Charli XCX-featuring Fancy. It was a worldwide hit that helped catapult the album into the top 10 worldwide and somehow established her as one of the biggest artists in the world. You'd think Azalea would be a case study in somebody who was unable to follow up her success but she actually did. The following single Black Widow recruited British artist Rita Ora, giving Ora her first US hit. It didn't match the success of Fancy but it was a valiant follow-up and one that suggested her career had legs.

A deluxe edition version of the album Reclassified delved out a handful of singles featuring MØ and Jennifer Hudson but neither reached the top 20 in the US. Even a follow-up Britney Spears collab tanked. Following that, clumsy Twitter wars about cultural appropriation that Azalea failed to defend intelligently, a split with former mentor T.I. and label troubles paved the road to album number two. Both singles from the record have tanked and it looks like the label won't proceed with any more.

Kanye West

Kanye West hit number in 2003 with his second single Slow Jamz and since then has barely had a flat period in his career. The song, which was billed as a Twista single, proceeded the release of his debut album The College Dropout which has sold almost four million copies worldwide. It never charted in Australia but it reached number two in the US and produced another top 10 single in All Falls Down. Just a year later Kanye dropped Gold Digger off his second album Late Registration, a song that went on to be a worldwide number one and is still to this day one of the biggest hits of his career.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj's commercial success was more gradual than Cardi B. While she reached number two in the US as part of Young Money's Bedrock and made waves as a serious rap star on Kanye West's Monster, her debut album The Pinkprint failed to clock a top 10 single until long after its release. Minaj's first big single was a bonus track from the album Super Bass which went top 10 in Australia, the UK and the US. The year after she went EDM with Starships which flew into the top 10 and the rest is history really. Top 10's ensued with features on songs by Trey Songz, Drake, David Guetta, Justin Bieber and heaps more. She now has more appearances in the Billboard Hot 100 than any other female.

Lil Uzi Vert

Lil Uzi Vert's breakout hit came around the same time as Cardi B's Bodak Yellow with his unexpected hit XO Tour Lif3 reaching number 7 in the US. Granted he'd already had a number one as part of Migos' Bad & Boujee but this what his solo breakout and one that was followed up pretty swiftly with an album Luv Is Rage 2. While it's a risky move to drop an album without a follow-up single it paid off for Uzi. Luv Is Rage 2 went to number one and the second single The Way Life Goes is steadily gaining momentum and on course to be another hit. It's possible that if Cardi took this same path and dropped an album tomorrow, she'd have similar success given that streaming nowadays allows audiences to satisfy curiosity without having to wholeheartedly invest money an artist.

50 Cent

Like Cardi, 50 Cent's first number one single In Da Club came early on in his career. It was a worldwide smash and 50 released his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin' just a month after the release of it. It was a move that worked for him. The album has sold 14 million copies worldwide to date and it debuted at number on in the US. He dropped 21 Questions following In Da Club, nabbing another US number before following it up with another hit P.I.M.P.. Around the same time he was featuring on songs with Eminem and The Game, right up until the release of his second album which was preceded by another number Candy Shop. It wasn't until his third album Curtis that he started to lose momentum as Kanye West became the new big-selling rapper. Now, 50 hasn't had a solo top 10 in the US since 2007.


Now we're getting to one hit wonder territory. NYC rapper MIMS' debut single This Is Why I'm Hot shot to number one in the US in 2007 and spent two weeks there before it was eclipsed by Fergie. An album Music Is My Savior was released months after the single release and spawned one more semi-successful single Like This. It reached number four in the US but was ultimately his final chart success. An album that followed two years later flopped and he hasn't had one since then.

Soulja Boy

It's hard following up a number one debut at the best of times but it's even harder when it's a viral dance phenomenon like Soulja Boy's Crank That (Soulja Boy). The debut single from the Chicago rapper reached the top spot in the US and even managed the number three spot in Australia, a market that is usually less open to new rap stars. The second single Soulja Girl released with the album, flopped and while the album went top 10 it was hardly settled in for a long time on the charts. Unbelievably Soulja managed to nab another big hit the year after with Kiss Me Thru the Phone but that was his last taste of considerable chart success. He now hasn't had a charting single since 2010.

Flo Rida

Flo Rida's Low went number one quickly in 2007 establishing him as one of the biggest commercial rapper around at the time. It spent 10 weeks at number one in the US which almost took us right up to the release of his second single Elevator the following year. Low may have overshadowed that songs success, however, because it only made a small dent on the charts before he regained momentum with the In The Ayer. Since then, he's failed to release big performing albums but he's managed at least 10 big singles featuring everone from Kesha to Sia. While he's not the critics favourite rapper, he's a hit machine, last reaching the top 10 globally with My House in 2015.


It may surprise you to know but flat earth-conspiracist B.O.B. was huge for a period in 2010. His debut single Nothin' on You featuring an also very fresh Bruno Mars went number one in the US and number three in Australia. The follow-up single Don't Let Me Fail which came right before the album release tanked globally but he followed it swiftly with the Hayley Williams featuring Airplanes which was a hit and helped drive sales for the album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray. His second album Strange Clouds had a few lukewarm hits with Lil Wayne and Taylor Swift features but his momentum started to fade and nothing has really stuck since.


In 2016, after Kanye West sampled Panda on The Life Of Pablo, Desiigner reached number one in the US with a very unlikely hit. It was well received globally and while he had to fend off Future rip-off claims, for a moment he was the most hyped rapper on earth. He followed it with a mixtape New English which was criticized by critics and sold poorly in the US. Timmy Turner, which started as an XXL freestyle, became the second official single and did OK on the charts but ultimately failed to match the success of Panda. Since then, he's really done nothing to prove that he's not deserved of the one hit wonder tag.