Kendrick Lamar Earns Third No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart With Biggest Debut of 2017

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. blasts in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 2017’s biggest week for an album: 603,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending April 20, according to Nielsen Music. That’s the most units earned by an album in a single week in nearly a year, since Drake’s Views launched with 1.04 million units in the week ending May 5, 2016. The previous record holder for 2017’s biggest week was the debut of Drake’s More Life, with 505,000 units in the week ending March 23.

DAMN. marks Lamar’s third No. 1 album, following last year’s Untitled Unmastered. and 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly. DAMN. was released April 14 through Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope Records.

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new May 6-dated chart — where Lamar opens at No. 1 — will be posted in full to Billboard’s websites on Tuesday, March 21. The rest of the new chart's top 10 will be revealed on Sunday, April 23.

DAMN.’s debut is larger than expected: on the afternoon of April 20, industry prognosticators had forecasted a bow of between 530,000 and 550,000 units. (And that figure was an upgrade from three days earlier, when its start was pegged at 475,000.) DAMN.’s forecast kept growing (into its eventual finish of 603,000 units) thanks to the set’s sustained strong popularity on streaming services through the week. The set’s start of 227,000 SEA units is the second-largest streaming week ever for an album. (227,000 SEA units equates to 340.6 million streams of the songs from the 14-track album during its debut frame, as each SEA unit represents 1,500 streams of songs from the album.) The only larger streaming week for an album was registered by Drake’s More Life, which launched with 257,000 SEA units (384.8 million song streams).

In addition, on April 18, Lamar surprise-released four digital editions of the album only available through his official website. The sets were available until April 20 and offered a digital download of DAMN., along with either an autographed vinyl LP or CD version of the set.

In total, DAMN. sold 353,000 in traditional album sales in its first week. That’s both the largest sales week of 2017 (surpassing Ed Sheeran’s ÷ [Divide] launch of 322,000) and a career-high sales frame for Lamar (beating To Pimp a Butterfly’s bow of 324,000 in 2015). DAMN.’s sales are the largest for an album in a week since J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only started with 363,000 in the week ending Dec. 15, 2016.