"Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop."
Well, I really don't know. I think we can all agree that Q-Tip's statement (which he made in 1991 as a diss against MC Hammer, btw) has been disproved by history: Rap IS pop. Most probably it has always been. And even if we don't read the quote as a positive, empirical desription but rather as a normative claim, I am still hesitant to agree that rap shouldn't be pop. I've always liked hip hop with a pop sensibility and I've always had a soft spot for truly cheezy, mainstream crossover hip hop. Think of: The Rocksteady Crew. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Skee-Lo. Hell, even MC Hammer.
So here's a little pop quiz (pun intended) for you: What were the first 3 rap songs / songs with rapping to reach the Billboard Charts' number 1 position?
Now If I was asked I'd probably say The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" was tremendously successful. And "The Message" of course, as well as anything by Kurtis Blow. "Hey You" by the Rock Steady Crew was a major hit even if it didn't have much rapping. A few years later the crossover got even bigger with Run DMC scoring hits like "Walk this way" or "It's tricky". And finally, the one that inspired Q-Tip's "rap is not pop" sentiment: "U can't touch this".
In reality though, these were the first 3 rap songs at #1:
Notice anything? I'm just saying ...