J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only bounds in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, granting the rapper his fourth chart-topper and notching the third-largest debut of 2016, according to Nielsen Music. The set earned 492,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Dec. 15. Only the bows of Drake’s Views (1.04 million units) and Beyonce’s Lemonade (653,000) were larger this year.
Of J. Cole’s overall 492,000 unit start, 363,000 were in traditional album sales — the third-biggest weekly sales sum for a single album this year. Again, it trails only the arrivals of Views (852,000 sold in its first week) and Lemonade (a 485,000 sales launch).
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 Dec. 31-dated chart (where 4 Your Eyez Only opens at No. 1) will be posted in full to Billboard’s Websites on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
4 Your Eyez Only also logs a big streaming week as it tallied 118,000 in SEA units (equaling 176.9 million streams of the album’s songs), which is the second-largest streaming debut ever for an album. It trails only the bow of Drake’s Views, which launched with 163,000 streaming units in its opening frame (equating to 245.1 million streams of songs from the album that week). 4 Your Eyez Only is just the third album to surpass 100,000 streaming equivalent album units in a single week, following Views and The Weeknd’s Starboy (with its opening frame of 117,000 in SEA units). Views actually did it three times: during its debut week, along with its third (124,000) and fourth (111,000) frames.
J. Cole first hit No. 1 with his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, in 2011, when it launched with 217,000 copies sold. He followed it in 2013 with Born Sinner (297,000 sold in its first week) and then the following year with 2014 Forest Hills Drive (354,000 first week sales). Thus, J. Cole has achieved an infrequent feat: each of his successive albums has started with a larger debut sales week than the previous set, as his new album bows with 363,000 sold.
Other acts that have shown steady gains with the opening frames of their recent albums include Bruno Mars, Adele (both with their first three studio sets) and Taylor Swift (with her first five studio efforts).
At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200 is a surging Pentatonix, with A Pentatonix Christmas. The set earned 156,000 units for the week (up 22 percent). The group’s previous holiday album, That’s Christmas To Me, returns to the top five, as it climbs 8-5 with 65,000 units (up 24 percent). Pentatonix is the first act to chart a pair of albums concurrently in the top five since Prince on the May 21-dated chart, following an outpouring of support for his music following his death on April 21. Previous to Prince, both David Bowie and Whitney Houston also scored the feat, in 2016 and 2012, respectively — but again, only after their deaths. The last living act to notch a pair of albums in the top five at the same time was Adele on the March 3, 2012-dated chart. That week’s chart reflected impact from the 2012 Grammy Awards, where Adele’s 21 took home multiple trophies, including the award for album of the year. The set held at No. 1 on the list, while her previous album, 19, jumped 9-4.
Back on the new Billboard 200 chart, The Weeknd’s Starboy slips 2-3 with 109,000 units (down 28 percent in its third week) and Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic rises 6-4 with 74,000 units (up 27 percent).
Singer/songwriter/rapper Post Malone sees his debut studio album, Stoney, bow at No. 6 with 58,000 units (19,000 in album sales). The album had a particularly robust number of streams for the week (51.7 million streams, equating to 34,000 SEA units), as the set garnered the third-most streams for its tracks among any album on the chart for the week (behind 4 Your Eyez Only and Starboy).
Stoney features Post Malone’s breakthrough smash single “White Iverson,” which reached No. 3 on the Hot Rap Songs chart in January.
The original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton returns to the top 10, as it climbs 11-7 with 48,000 units (up 7 percent). Its rise comes as its spin-off album, The Hamilton Mixtape, tumbles 1-14 in its second week with 36,000 units (down 81 percent).
The Moana movie soundtrack slips one rung to No. 8 with 48,000 units (down 10 percent) and Michael Buble’s Christmas jumps 13-9 with a little more than 43,000 units (up 1 percent). The Rolling Stones’ Blue & Lonesome rounds out the top 10, as it descends 4-10 in its second week with 43,000 units (down 65 percent).
Editor’s note: The streaming debut of J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only was corrected on Dec. 20 to 176.9 million. The previously stated figure of 51.7 million was in correct.