Tems “Free Mind” Sets Female Record, Tops R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay For Weeks

Tems’ “Free Mind” achieves a remarkable feat by holding the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart for the 17th consecutive week, setting a new record for the longest reign by a lead female artist. This accomplishment adds to the song’s remarkable journey, initially gaining popularity as a sleeper hit from the 2020 EP and later becoming a streaming sensation driven by enthusiastic fans in 2022. Now, it has cemented its status as a record-breaking radio hit.
On the chart dated May 20, “Free Mind” secures its 17th week at the top position, aided by a 1% increase resulting in 19.2 million audience impressions. Once again, it emerges as the most-played song across a combination of monitored adult R&B and mainstream R&B/hip-hop radio stations in the United States for the week ending May 11, according to Luminate.

With its 17-week reign, “Free Mind” surpasses Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up” to claim the record for the longest-running No. 1 song by a lead female artist. Ella Mai held the previous record with a 16-week run in 2018. As “Free Mind” disrupts the leaderboard, let’s take a look at the songs performed by women in lead or co-lead roles that have spent the most weeks at No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay since the chart’s inception in 1992:

17 weeks: “Free Mind” – Tems (2022-23)
16 weeks: “Boo’d Up” – Ella Mai (2018)
15 weeks: “Be Without You” – Mary J. Blige (2006)
14 weeks: “We Belong Together” – Mariah Carey (2005)
13 weeks: “You’re Makin’ Me High” – Toni Braxton (1996)
13 weeks: “Trip” – Ella Mai (2018-19)
12 weeks: “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” – Beyoncé (2008-09)
12 weeks: “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” – Alicia Keys (2010)
11 weeks: “Work” – Rihanna featuring Drake (2016)
11 weeks: “Please Me” – Cardi B & Bruno Mars (2019)

When considering women in both lead and featured roles, Tems still holds the record for the song with the most weeks at No. 1. She was featured on Wizkid’s “Essence,” which reigned for 27 weeks in 2021-22. This breakthrough Afrobeats hit is tied as the second-longest-running No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, along with Chris Brown’s “No Guidance” featuring Drake. Both songs trail only another track by Chris Brown, “Go Crazy,” featuring Young Thug, which spent 29 weeks at the top in 2020-21.

Although “Free Mind” was originally released in 2020 as part of the EP “For Broken Ears,” the song gained significant attention only after Tems’ breakthrough on three other high-profile tracks. In addition to “Essence,” she featured on Drake’s “Fountains” from Certified Lover Boy and collaborated with Drake again on Future’s chart-topping Billboard Hot 100 hit “Wait for U.” These collaborations revitalized interest in her solo material, leading to increased streaming and renewed promotion for “Free Mind.” The track ascended to No. 1 on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay in November 2022 and subsequently crossed over to the Adult R&B Airplay chart, reigning for nine weeks starting in February 2023.
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