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Billboard 200 Chart Moves: J. Cole’s Trio of No. 1 Albums Puts Him in Elite Hip-Hop Company

With J. Cole's start at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, he becomes one of only six rap acts to reach No. 1 with their first three full-length studio albums.

On the latest Billboard 200 albums chart, J. Cole‘s 2014 Forest Hills Drive debuted at No. 1, his third consecutive album to reach the top slot (his entire output of studio releases, too). The new album shifted 375,000 units in the week ending Dec. 14, according to Nielsen Music. (That sum was comprised of 354,000 in pure album sales, with the rest made up of track equivalent albums and streaming equivalent albums.)

As reported previously, the Billboard 200 chart now measures multi-metric album consumption, including pure album sales. The ranking combines on-demand streaming and digital track sales in addition to traditional album sales, all measured by Nielsen Music.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the action on the chart, including a particularly notable feat that J. Cole achieves with his No. 1 debut:

— J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive – No. 1 With J. Cole’s start at No. 1, he becomes one of only six rap acts to reach No. 1 with his first three full-length studio albums. He follows Drake, Rick Ross, DMX, Nelly and Snoop Dogg. (Nelly’s achievement requires a bit of explanation, so more on that in a moment.)

Drake’s first chart entry was an EP, So Far Gone, which peaked at No. 6 in 2009. He’s since followed it with three No. 1 full-length studio sets: Thank Me Later (in 2010), Take Care (2011) and Nothing Was the Same (2013) — all of which debuted at No. 1. Drake is currently working on his next studio effort.

Ross debuted atop the chart with his first three studio sets: Port of Miami (2006), Trilla (2008) and Deeper Than Rap (2009). Ross’ next album, 2010’s Teflon Don, debuted and peaked at No. 2.

DMX had one of the most incredible hot streaks on the Billboard 200 back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when his first five releases all debuted at No. 1 (It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot; Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood; …And Then There Was X; The Great Depression; and Grand Champ between 1998 and 2003). He is the only male artist (among all genres of music) to debut at No. 1 with his first five studio albums. DMX’s next release, 2006’s Year of the Dog… Again, debuted and peaked at No. 2.

Nelly topped the list with his first album, 2000’s Country Grammar, and followed it up with the No. 1-debuting Nellyville in 2003. For his next studio project, he released two albums at the same time in 2004: Suit and Sweat. Suit debuted at No. 1 on the chart dated Oct. 2, 2004, while Sweat arrived at No. 2. (Nelly’s next studio set, 2008’s Brass Knuckles, debuted and peaked at No. 3.)

Snoop Dogg saw all his first three albums bow in the pole position: 1993’s Doggy Style, 1996’s Tha Doggfather and 1998’s Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told. His next album, No Limit Top Dogg, debuted and peaked at No. 2 in 1999.

The Smashing Pumpkins, Monuments to an Elegy – No. 33 The rock act returns to the chart with its 12th entry, and first since 2012’s Oceania debuted and peaked at No. 4. The new release is the Smashing Pumpkins’ first studio album to miss the top 10 since its debut album, Gish (released in 1991). The album spent one week on the chart in 1991 (No. 195 on the Sept. 7-dated chart) and then returned for one more frame on Dec. 17, 2011 (No. 146, its peak).

Soundtrack, Nashville: The Music of, Season 3 — Volume 1 – No. 75 — The ABC TV series Nashville continues to churn out albums, as this latest companion album starts with 12,000 units (with 11,000 of those being pure album sales). It’s the ninth Nashville-related album to reach Billboard‘s various charts. (Coincidentally, the new release arrives one rung above the Christmas With Nashville album at No. 76.)

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin & Sammy Davis Jr., Christmas With the Rat Pack – No. 104 – The 16-song collection — featuring holiday tunes from the three classic entertainers — returns to the chart for the first time since the Jan. 1, 2011-dated list. The album was released in 2010 and is not to be confused with the same-named album that bowed in 2002 (they feature alternative tracklists). The 2010 album has sold 112,000 copies, while the 2002 album (which is now out of print) has sold 1.1 million.

Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon – No. 102 — It’s no surprise the album takes a mighty 89-position tumble down the chart, falling all the way from a No. 13 re-entry to No. 102. After all, it only reappeared on the chart at No. 13 thanks to a temporary 99-cent discount on the album in the Google Play store. Now, without that cheap price in place, the album’s sales return to normal, and it floats back down the tally (10,000 units; down 74 percent, 9,000 in album sales; down 75 percent).