On the Charts: Drake's Mixtape Starts From the Top - Rolling Stone
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On the Charts: Drake’s Mixtape Starts From the Top

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ also big winner as cult phenomenon spreads from bookshelf to box office to music retailers


Drake's surprise mixtape 'If You're Reading This It's Too Late' topped the Billboard 200.

Bennett Raglin/BET

Drake‘s surprise new mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late literally started from the bottom on its way here – Number One on the Billboard 200 – by going from not-even-existing to chart-topping over the course of just a few days. After it was unveiled in the late evening hours last Thursday, the rapper’s latest racked up 495,000 albums in purely digital sales on iTunes before this week’s chart cut-off of February 15th.

Billboard lists numerous superlatives If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late accomplished on its way to Number One: Drake has now tied DMX for most Number One albums by a rapper to start their career with four; the mixtape had the best-selling debut week since Taylor Swift’s 1989; If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is already 2015’s second best-selling album after only three days. But most impressive is that Drake’s latest, with zero fanfare before it dropped on iTunes, managed to sell at a better pace than his prior two albums, Take Care and Nothing Was the Same. Both of those LPs, with the benefit of a full sales week, pushed over 600,000 copies in their debut weeks.

Almost as big a surprise as Drake’s mixtape was the week’s Number Two seller: The Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. The compilation, featuring new songs by Ellie Goulding, the Weeknd and Sia alongside re-recorded Beyoncé hits, sold 210,000 copies, proving that the cult phenomenon has spread from the bookshelf to the box office ($237 million opening weekend globally) to music retailers.

With Drake and Fifty Shades of Grey occupying the Top Two spots, this week marked the first time in the 16-week history of Swift’s 1989 that the multi-platinum album hasn’t sat in the Number One or Number Two spot since its October 2014 release. 1989 slipped from Number One to Number Five as Sam Smith’s post-Grammy bump helped In the Lonely Hour jump from Number Four to Number Three and another 164,000 copies sold. Ed Sheeran’s X grabbed Number Four.

However, the week’s biggest gainer percentage-wise was also the Grammy’s surprise Album of the Year winner: Beck’s Morning Phase. According to Billboard, after the singer’s 2014 LP upset both Beyoncé and Kanye West (literally) on Music’s Biggest Night, Morning Phase‘s sales skyrocketed 483 percent as the album jumped from Number 39 to Number Eight. The additional 71,000 post-Grammy copies sold were almost as much as Morning Phase moved in its March 2014 debut week, when it sold 87,000 units.


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