For the second straight week, rap not only tops the U.S. album charts, but also makes a hat-trick of the top three spots, continuing a solid few weeks for the genre after a quiet start.
This time, it’s Wale who takes the cake, scoring the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with his third studio album, The Gifted.
The Gifted is the D.C. rapper’s first No. 1 album, selling 158,000 in its debut week, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan. His previous best was a No. 2 debut for 2011′s Ambition, while debut album Attention Deficit peaked at No. 21. That said, The Gifted doesn’t eclipse Ambition in first-week sales; the latter sold 164,000 in November 2011, beat out only by Justin Bieber’s Mistletoe.
Sales of The Gifted were supported by lead single “Bad” featuring Tiara Thomas, his highest-ranking single on the Hot 100 to date with a No. 21 peak so far. The song has also found the top five on the Billboard’s R&B and Rap charts, though it has yet to unseat Ambition‘s “Lotus Flower Bomb,” which hit No. 1 on the R&B chart.
This week, it’s J. Cole’s Born Sinner that wins the waning battle between the two artists, moving 84,000 its second week out. That’s a 72 percent drop from last week’s 297,000, but it’s not nearly as large as Yeezus‘ fall to No. 3 with sales of 65,000 — an 80 percent cut in sales.
West’s drop, paired with his diminished first-week sales of 327,000 after original expectations set sales at 500,000, could be due to the rapper’s off-kilter marketing strategy for Yeezus, which at the time included no official singles and little promotion aside from an SNL spot and a single interview, granted to the New York Times. That said, the record could see a gain, as “Black Skinhead” has been chosen as a radio single with an accompanying video.
In unrelated news, it’s a solid week for Christian rock acts. Two of the four Top-10 debuts, Wale included, go to acts from the genre, with the highest chart position going to Skillet‘s Rise. The album, the four-piece’s ninth, moves 60,000 copies out of the gate, helped along by the band’s continuing crossover into radio rock, with “Sick of It” hitting No. 12 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
Meanwhile, the other such band, metalcore outfit August Burns Red, earns its first Top 10 album on its sixth try. Rescue and Restore debuts at No. 9 this week with 26,000 sold.
India.Arie is the only other Top-10 debut, with Songversation selling 31,000 its first week out and charting at No. 7.
Nos. 5 and 6 actually represent chart gains for albums that have been released for quite some time. Daft Punk‘s Random Access Memories jumps one spot to No. 5 with sales of 31,000, while Florida Georgia Line continues to find benefit from the duo’s “Cruise” remix with Nelly, as Here’s to the Good Times moves from No. 8 to No. 6, also selling 31,000.
Also of note is Justin Timberlake‘s The 20/20 Experience, which slides outside of the Top 10 for the first time since its March release.
-Kevin Rutherford, Radio.com