Kanye West’s ‘Donda’ Is No. 1, but Drake Waits in the Wings

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Kanye West’s long-delayed new album, “Donda,” starts at No. 1 on Billboard’s new chart with the biggest opening of the year so far. But its reign at the top may be brief, with Drake’s latest LP lining up huge numbers for next week.

“Donda,” West’s 10th solo studio album (and his 10th title overall to reach the top, including “Watch the Throne,” his 2011 album with Jay-Z), had the equivalent of 309,000 sales in the United States in its first week out, more than any other album in 2021, according to MRC Data, Billboard’s tracking arm. (Its closest competitor, Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour,” racked up 295,000 in May.) The total for “Donda” includes 357 million streams, a weekly record for the year, and 37,000 copies sold as a complete package.

According to West’s label, Def Jam, the album has reached No. 1 in 11 countries and had more than 775 million streams around the world. The label even broke down those streams by outlet: 442 million on Spotify and 242 million on Apple Music, which would mean those services accounted for about 88 percent of all opening-week streams for the album.

Teased for more than a year — including at three stadium-size listening events in recent weeks, which were livestreamed by Apple Music — the 27-track “Donda” was finally released on Aug. 29, a Sunday. Since albums usually come out on a Friday, that gave “Donda” just five days of public availability before Billboard’s accounting week ended.

Its time at No. 1 may be brief. In a classic monster-movie clash, “Donda” was released just days before Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy,” another long-anticipated LP hyped for months. Last week, “Donda” broke daily streaming records at Apple and Spotify, but then “Certified Lover Boy” quickly broke them again.

Also this week, Halsey’s latest album, “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” — made with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails — opens at No. 2 with the equivalent of 98,000 sales, including 35 million streams and 70,500 copies sold as a complete package.

Rodrigo’s “Sour” is No. 3, Doja Cat’s “Planet Her” is No. 4 and the Kid Laroi’s “____ Love” is No. 5.


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