Though Rick Ross' "Mastermind" holds onto the No. 1 spot on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums with 49,000 copies (a 73% drop, according to Nielsen SoundScan), top 10 debuts from Aloe Blacc, Young Money and Ledisi make it a busy week on the list.
After reaching worldwide audiences as the featured vocalist on Avicii's fall hit "Wake Me Up" (though not credited for contribution), Aloe Blacc's major label debut "Lift Your Spirit" opens at No. 2 with 45,000 first-week copies. It is his second appearance on the list behind his sophomore independent album "Good Things" which debuted and peaked at No. 41 with 2,000 copies in October 2010. The impressive opening for "Spirit" was spurred by the set's lead single "The Man" which sits at its peak of No. 5 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for a fourth week.
Blacc's debut pushes Pharrell's "G I R L" down 3-2 (with a 60% decline to 45,000) while Young Money's "Rise of an Empire" opens at No. 4 with 31,000 units. Although surpassing the opening figure of last year's Young Money/Cash Money compilation "Rich Gang" (24,000), "Empire" falls far short of its proper predecessor "We Are Young Money," which debuted over Christmas week of December 2009 with 142,000.
The Young Money label was just taking form in 2009, the year that Drake and Nicki Minaj signed with the Lil Wayne-founded venture. In setting up "We Are Young Money," the crew released the singles "Every Girl" and "Bedrock" (the latter featuring Lloyd), both of which peaked at No. 2 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The ensemble also embarked on a 14-city Young Money, Cash Money tour in support of the album. The rollout of "Rise of an Empire" has brought much less fanfare, with only two pseudo-singles in Drake's "Trophies" and Minaj's "Lookin Ass," both initially released as online freestyles before being tapped for the album. Now credited to Young Money, the freestyles-turned-singles reach new Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs peaks of Nos. 15 and 28, respectively.
Beyonce's self-titled set stays put at No. 5 with 22,000 copies (down 12%) to close out the top five of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums relegating Ledisi's "The Truth" to a No. 6 debut with 20,000. This is the R&B veteran's fifth appearance on the chart, which includes the No. 1-debuting "Turn Me Loose" from 2009. "I Blame You," the lead single off of "Truth," is currently at its peak of No. 7 on the Adult R&B airplay chart.
Things are much quieter over on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs where Nos. 1-9 all remain stationary. The only change in the top 10 is Chris Brown's "Loyal," featuring Lil Wayne and French Montana or Too $hort, which moves 11-10 to mark Brown's 29th top 10. In terms of the most top 10s on the list in the Nielsen era (Dec. 1992-present), Brown is now tied with Ludacris for the fifth-most behind Lil Wayne (38), Drake (34), R. Kelly (32) and Jay Z (31).
Further down the list, Fresno, Calif.-based singer/songwriter/producer Mali Music posts his first chart hit as "Beautiful" opens at No. 36 with Hot Shot Debut honors. The impressive entrance is due primarily to the digital explosion caused by his performance of the song on the March 13 broadcast of Fox's "American Idol." The track was downloaded nearly 22,000 times in the week ending March 16, a 1,300% increase over the previous period. The track also debuts at No. 16 on R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Songs.
Before signing with Mark Pitts' ByStorm Entertainment label (under RCA) in 2013, Mali Music was primarily a Christian act, peaking at No. 15 on Gospel Albums with his 2009 debut album "The 2econd Coming." His stand-alone single "The Job Experience" peaked at No. 2 on Gospel Digital Songs in 2012, followed by his featured turns on Kirk Franklin's "Give Me" (No. 7, 2012) and Lecrae's "Tell the World" (No. 4, 2013). Not surprisingly, new single "Beautiful" catapults 11-1 on Gospel Digital Songs and 12-1 on Hot Gospel Songs, his first No. 1s on either list. "Beautiful" was one of a handful of tracks Mali Music posted on his SoundCloud page last October, previewing his secular, major label debut "Mali Is…," which is scheduled for release this Spring.