The set, which was released on July 26 via NF Real Music/Caroline, starts with 130,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending Aug. 1 according to Nielsen Music — the fourth-largest week for a rap album released in 2019. Of that sum, 84,000 were in album sales, which made it the biggest sales week for a rap set this year.
The Search’s first-week more than doubles the debut frame of NF’s last album, Perception, which opened at No. 1 with 55,000 units earned (of which 38,000 were in album sales) on the chart dated Oct. 28, 2017.
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 Aug. 10-dated chart, where The Search starts at No. 1, will be posted in full on Billboard‘s websites on Aug. 6.
The Search starts with a larger-than-forecast number, as some industry prognosticators thought the album would bow with around 95,000 units. The Search benefited from sturdy sales sold through traditional means like the iTunes Store, a range of merchandise/album bundles sold via NF’s official webstore — including a few late-in-the-week new offers of signed merch bundled with an album — and a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer.
Also helping The Search’s first-week: a much larger streaming number as compared to the debut frame of NF’s last album, Perception. The Search garnered 43,000 SEA units, which translates to 58.4 million on-demand audio streams for the set’s songs. Comparatively, Perception bowed with 14,000 SEA units, equaling 21.1 million on-demand audio streams.
So, what’s happened since Perception bowed at No. 1 in 2017?
When Perception launched at No. 1, NF had never charted a single on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart, though he had been steadily building a dedicated fan base (enough of which to launch Perception at No. 1 on the Billboard 200).
But then, things changed in a very big way, as Perception went on to log a pair of hit singles on the Hot 100 with “Let You Down” (peaking at No. 12) and “Lie” (No. 48). The two tracks were significant radio hits as well, topping out at Nos. 9 and 18, respectively, on the all-genre Radio Songs chart, in addition to Nos. 1 and 8 on the Pop Songs chart (which ranks the week’s most played songs on top 40-formatted radio stations).
Perception has gone on to earn a total of 1.1 million equivalent album units, with 160,000 of that sum in album sales. The album’s tracks have collectively sold 1 million downloads, and generated over 1.2 billion on-demand audio streams.
The Search’s current radio-promoted single, “Time,” debuted at No. 38 on the most recently published Rhythmic Songs airplay chart (dated Aug. 3) and was bubbling under the threshold of the Pop Songs tally.
At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200, Chance the Rapper’s The Big Day debuts with 108,000 equivalent album units earned (with 27,000 of that figure in album sales). The Big Day marks Chance’s highest-charting album yet, and third top 10 overall.
Of The Big Day’s unit start, 80,000 of that sum was driven by SEA units, which translates to 104 million on-demand audio streams for the set’s songs during the week, making The Big Day the most-streamed album of the week.
The Big Day is Chance’s first studio album, after previously releasing three solo mixtapes:10 Day in 2012; Acid Rap, 2013, and Coloring Book, 2016. The Big Day is also Chance’s first album to be released simultaneously on streaming services and for sale via retailers.
His first two mixtapes were issued as free downloads and not available on streamers. Then, in 2016, he issued Coloring Book initially exclusively via Apple Music’s streaming platform before making it available widely to all streamers. He made chart history with Coloring Book, as it bowed at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 (dated June 4, 2016), becoming the first streaming-exclusive album to ever chart on the list.
Earlier in 2019, Chance gave 10 Day and Acid Rap their streaming and retail debuts while also granting Coloring Book its first retail release. In turn, on the Billboard 200 dated July 13, Acid Rap bowed at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, 10 Day debuted at No. 73, and Coloring Book re-entered at No. 46.
On the new Billboard 200 chart, Chance has two more titles on the tally: Coloring Book re-enters at No. 147, while Acid Rap rises 194-157.
Like NF’s The Search, Chance’s The Big Day was supported by an array of merchandise/album bundles Chance sold via his official website. In addition, Chance offered an album bundled with an access code to the pre-sale for his upcoming concert tour.
Two former No. 1s are next on the Billboard 200, as Billie Eilish’s When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? dips 3-4 (47,000 units; down 8%) and Chris Brown’s Indigo climbs 6-5 (40,000 units; up 9%). Lil Nas X’s 7 falls 4-6 with 39,000 units (down 9%).
Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You is steady at No. 7, but with a 15% gain in units, as it earned 37,000 units for the week.
At No. 8, rappers Key Glock and Young Dolph’s team-up on the collaborative set Dum and Dummer arrives with 36,000 equivalent album units (with just 2,000 of that sum in album sales). The set’s debut is powered almost entirely by streaming activity, as it garnered 33,000 SEA units (equating 43.7 million on-demand audio streams for the set’s songs). Dum and Dummer is the first top 10 for either act: Key Glock notched two earlier entries, while Young Dolph placed seven albums on the list.
Of Monsters and Men score its third top 10 effort on the Billboard 200 as the band’s Fever Dream debuts at No. 9. The set starts with 34,000 equivalent album units earned, with 30,000 of that sum in album sales. The album’s first-week sales were aided by a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer with the group’s upcoming tour. Of Monsters and Men previously visited the top 10 with Beneath the Skin (No. 3 in 2015) and My Head Is An Animal (No. 6, 2012).
Closing out the new top 10 is the multi-artist Revenge of the Dreamers III project as it falls 5-10. The former No. 1 earned 33,000 units in the latest tracking week, down 21%.