Paul Russell Hits No. 1 on Emerging Artists Chart, Thanks to ‘Lil Boo Thang’

Paul Russell ascends to No. 1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart (dated Oct. 14), becoming the top up-and-coming act in the U.S. for the first time, thanks to the continued success of his viral breakthrough song, “Lil Boo Thang.”

The single, released Aug. 18 on Arista Records, jumps 74-51 in its third week on the Billboard Hot 100 with 17.9 million radio airplay audience impressions (up 31%), 5.1 million official streams (up 16%) and 5,000 downloads sold (up 12%) in the United States in the Sept. 29-Oct. 5 tracking week, according to Luminate.

The track holds at its No. 5 high on Digital Song Sales and climbs 48-39 on the all-format Radio Songs chart. The feel-good song continues rising at multiple radio formats: It’s up 22-18 on Pop Airplay and 25-22 on Adult Pop Airplay, debuts at No. 25 on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and holds at its No. 27 high on Rhythmic Airplay.

Emerging Artists is the second chart that Russell has topped, after “Lil Boo Thang” led the Rap Digital Song Sales chart dated Sept. 2.

“Lil Boo Thang” interpolates the Emotions’ classic “Best of My Love,” which was written by Maurice White and Al McKay of Earth, Wind & Fire. The song spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1977 and finished as Billboard’s No. 3 year-end Hot 100 song that year. White and McKay are both credited as writers on Russell’s single.

Russell, from Texas and now based in Los Angeles, first teased a snippet of “Lil Boo Thang” in a June 28 TikTok that has since garnered over 10 million views and launched over 300,000 creations from fans who’ve paired it with other clips. (Activity on TikTok is not included in Billboard charts except for the newly-launched TikTok Billboard Top 50.) He later repurposed the post on Instagram Reels, where it has generated another 10 million views and sparked over a million creations. That virality helped Russell land a deal with Arista.

“First and foremost, ‘Lil Boo Thang’ is meant to be a good time,” Russell told Billboard ahead of the full track’s release. “When I wrote it, I was stressed out on a Thursday afternoon, so I just turned on some of the music that makes me happy and imagined that I was celebrating something. I think what makes the song special is the fact that so many of us are ready to just forget about whatever is happening around us and enjoy the good things in life – not just thinking back to good times in the past but creating new ones in the present day.”

The Emerging Artists chart ranks the most popular developing artists of the week, using the same formula as the all-encompassing Billboard Artist 100, which measures artist activity across multiple Billboard charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200. (The Artist 100 lists the most popular acts, overall, each week.) However, the Emerging Artists chart excludes acts that have notched a top 25 entry on either the Hot 100 or Billboard 200, as well as artists that have achieved two or more top 10s on Billboard’s “Hot” song genre charts and/or consumption-based “Top” album genre rankings.

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