The first-week tally for Magna Carta is substantially more than Yeezus, by Jay-Z’s pal and sometime collaborator Kanye West, has sold in its first four weeks combined (459K). It’s Jay-Z’s biggest opening tally since Kingdom Come sold 680K in its first week in November 2006. It’s the best sales week for a rap album since Drake’s Take Care sold 631K copies in its first week in November 2011.
By remarkable coincidence, Jay-Z was born Dec. 4, 1969, when the Beatles’ 13th #1 album, Abbey Road, was sitting at #1.
Magna Carta is Jay-Z’s fourth album to start with sales of 500K or more. It’s his 10th album (and his fifth studio album in a row) to start with sales north of 400K. You read a lot about declining album sales and how it’s not possible to expect albums to sell like they used to, but Jay-Z defies the trends.
Jay-Z’s total is especially impressive because it doesn’t count the 1 million digital copies that Samsung made available for free to its phone and tablet users who had downloaded a Jay-Z centric app. “Nothing was actually for sale,” Bill Werde, Billboard’s editorial director, wrote in an open letter to the industry explaining the decision.
If there had been no Samsung deal, Jay-Z’s album would probably sold even more copies this week. (Of course, it works both ways: The publicity about the Samsung deal and its chart repercussions helped focus attention on the album, which made it even more of an event album.)
Nine songs from the album enter Hot Digital Songs chart this week. “Holy Grail,” Jay-Z’s collabo with Justin Timberlake, bows at #3 (196K). It enters the Hot 100 at #8. That’s the second highest debut so far this year (after Baauer’s “Harlem Shake”).
The sales of the new album brings Jay-Z’s total album sales to 28,976,000, per Nielsen SoundScan. That puts him in third place among rappers, behind Eminem (42,307,000) and 2Pac (29,010,000). So in this coming week, he’ll surpass 2Pac, who was shot to death in September 1996. Rounding out the top five rap album artists since January 1991, per Nielsen SoundScan, are Nelly (21,743,000) and Beastie Boys (20,384,000).
In the U.S., Magna Carta had the biggest first week (and biggest single day) for an album in the history of the Spotify service.
Magna Carta also debuts at #1 on The Official U.K. Albums chart. It’s Jay-Z’s first #1 album in that country. His previous highest-charting album was Watch The Throne, which hit #3. His previous highest-charting album as a solo artist was The Blueprint III, which reached #4 in 2009.
Skylar Grey’s sophomore album, Don’t Look Down, debuts at #8. Grey was known as Holly Brook in 2006 when her debut album, Like Blood, Like Honey, was released. It failed to chart. Grey was featured on two of the 50 best-selling songs of 2011: Dr. Dre’s “I Need A Doctor” (which also featured Eminem) and Diddy-Dirty Money’s “Coming Home.”
Here’s the low-down on this week’s top 10 albums.
The Top Five: Jay-Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail debuts at #1 (528K). It’s his 15th top 10 album…Ciara’s Ciara debuts at #2 (59K). It’s her fourth top 10 album…J. Cole’s Born Sinner drops from #1 to #3 in its fourth week (40K). It has been in the top five the entire time…Florida Georgia Line’s Here’s To The Good Times inches up from #5 to #4 in its 31st week (33K). This is its seventh week in the top 10…Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions dips from #4 to #5 in its 45th week (33K). This is its 14th week in the top 10.
The Second Five: Kanye West’s Yeezus drops from #3 to #6 in its fourth week (29K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…Wale’s The Gifted drops from #2 to #7 in its third week (28K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…Skylar Grey’s Don’t Look Down debuts at #8 (24K). This is her first top 10 album…Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories drops from #7 to #9 its eighth week (23K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist drops from #8 to #10 in its 40th week (23K). This is its seventh week in the top 10.
Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Joe’s Double Back: Evolution Of R&B drops from #6 to #21. Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox drops from #9 to #11. Blake Shelton’s Based On A True Story… drops from #10 to #14.
Donell Jones’ seventh studio album, Forever, debuts at #20. Jones, 40, first charted in 1996 with My Heart. He climbed to #3 with 2002’s Life Goes On.
Bob Marley & the Wailers’ 1984 compilation Legend drops from #27 to #33 its 276th week on the chart. Legend holds at #1 on Top Catalog Albums. This is its 117th week on top of that chart (in the Nielsen SoundScan era).
Mindless Behavior’s Mindless Behavior: All Around The World debuts at #1 on Top Music Videos. The music documentary was released theatrically on March 15. The doc follows the R&B/hip-hop boy band as it travels across the U.S. on its first headlining tour. Mindless Behavior has had two top 10 albums on The Billboard 200: #1 Girl and All Around The World.
Despicable Me 2 was #1 at the box-office for the second straight weekend.
Coming Attractions: Jay-Z’s album will hold tight at #1 with sales in the 115K range. The rest of the top five may well consist entirely of debuts: Sara Bareilles’ Blessed Unrest (65K), Kidz Bop Kids’ Kidz Bop 24 (60K), Ace Hood’s Trials & Tribulations (28K) and Cody Simpson’s Surfer’s Paradise (28K). Matt Nathanson’s Last Of The Great Pretenders will probably open at #10 (21K). Also due: Sick Puppies’ Connect (15K) and the Teen Beach Movie soundtrack (14K).
- Arts & Entertainment
- Magna Carta