21 Savage's 'I Am > I Was' Album Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200 Chart

Courtesy of Epic Records
21 Savage

Plus, Nat King Cole & Mariah Carey send holiday sets to the top 10.

21 Savage scores his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with the chart-topping bow of I Am > I Was. The set was released on Dec. 21 via Slaughter Gang/Epic Records and launches with 131,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Dec. 27, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 18,000 were in traditional album sales, as the bulk of the album was driven by streaming activity.   

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units. Units are comprised of traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new Jan. 5, 2019-dated chart (where I Am bows at No. 1) will be posted in full on Billboard's websites on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.   

I Am is 21 Savage’s second solo studio effort, and marks his first leader on the Billboard 200 and his fourth entry overall. He previously hit the list with Without Warning (with Offset and Metro Boomin, peaking at No. 4 on the Nov. 18, 2017-dated chart), his debut solo studio set Issa Album (No. 2; July 29, 2017) and Savage Mode (with Metro Boomin, No. 23; Feb. 4, 2017).   

21 Savage has also collected five top 10-charting hits on the Hot Rap Songs chart, through the most recently published list dated Dec. 29, 2018. Among those hits is Post Malone’s chart-topping “Rockstar,” featuring 21 Savage, which also led the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart for eight weeks. The track also recently scored 21 Savage his first two Grammy Award nominations, for best rap/sung performance and record of the year.

I Am boasts guest turns from Travis Scott, Post Malone, Childish Gambino, Offset and others. None of those acts, however, are credited as artists on the album. (I Am is the latest rap album to top the Billboard 200 without assigning artist credit to its guest artists. Scott’s chart-topping Astroworld did not assign artist credit to any of its guests, which included Drake, Stevie Wonder, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and 21 Savage.)

Rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie earns his highest charting album yet on the Billboard 200, his new effort Hoodie SZN starts at No. 2. The set, his second full-length studio project, tallied 90,000 equivalent album units, with 6,000 of that sum coming from album sales. He previously visited the top 10 with his debut full-length studio release, The Bigger Artist, bowing and peaking at No. 4 on the Oct. 21, 2017-dated chart.

The rest of the new top 10 on the Billboard 200 is filled with a blend of holiday favorites and former No. 1s.

Michael Bublé’s Christmas climbs 4-3 with 75,000 units (up 19 percent). The set was released in 2011 and spent five weeks atop the list between Dec. 10, 2011 and Jan. 7, 2012. Christmas, like the rest of the holiday titles on the chart, is getting one last punch of holiday gains this season, as the latest tracking week (Dec. 21-27) included the four days leading up to Christmas (Dec. 21-24) and Christmas Day (Dec. 25).

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born soundtrack moves 3-4 (62,000 units; down 2 percent). The former No. 1 is followed by another former chart-topping soundtrack, as The Greatest Showman rises 10-5 (56,000 units; up 29 percent, likely a beneficiary of last-minute gift-giving purchases).

Meek Mill’s former No. 1 — Championships — slides 2-6 with 54,000 units (down 34 percent) in its fourth chart week.

Nat King Cole notches his first top 10 album since 1965, as The Christmas Song ascends from No. 15 (its prior peak) to No. 7 (a little over 52,000 units; up 40 percent), powered by streaming activity of the set’s familiar holiday tunes. The collection includes Cole’s seasonal favorite “The Christmas Song” as well as other oft-heard Cole holiday recordings like “O Holy Night,” “Caroling, Caroling” and “Silent Night.” The late legend was last in the top 10 with Ramblin’ Rose, which collected its final week in the top 10 on the tally dated May 1, 1965 (also at No. 7).

Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas visits the top 10 for the first time since January of 1995, its first season of release, as the album — featuring Carey’s ever popular “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — jingles 14-8 (52,000 units; up 33 percent). Like Cole’s album, Carey’s Merry also gets a big boost from streaming activity of its songs.

Merry Christmas, Carey’s first holiday album, was released in 1994 and peaked at No. 3 on the chart dated Dec. 17, 1994. It spent six weeks in the top 10 (before this week), with its final frame in the top 10 coming on the list dated Jan. 7, 1995 (No. 6).

Rounding out the new top 10 are a pair of former leaders: Kodak Black’s Dying to Live (falling 1-9 in its second week, with 51,000 units; down 43 percent) and Travis Scott’s Astroworld (6-10 with 49,000 units; up 2 percent).


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