Update, July 17, 1PM PST: Nielsen SoundScan has updated its sales figures. The new numbers have been adjusted in the story below.
Jay Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album storms in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 528,000 copies in its first week according to preliminary data from Nielsen SoundScan.
The larger-than-expected start is the second-biggest sales week for a single album this year. It bypasses the previous runner-up, Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” which opened with 339,000 in May. Both albums trail behind the year’s largest frame, racked up when Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” exploded with 968,000 in its first week.
The latest sales week ended at the close of business on Sunday, July 14. The rest of the new Billboard 200 chart’s top 10 will be revealed on Wednesday, July 17.
“Magna Carta Holy Grail” follows three consecutive weeks of rap albums taking turns at No. 1. First, Kanye West’s “Yeezus” topped the list, giving way to Wale’s “The Gifted” the following week. Then last week, Wale stepped aside to grant J. Cole’s “Born Sinner” a turn at the top.
Now, with “Magna Carta’s” No. 1 debut, it marks the first time that four different rap albums have consecutively spent their initial week at No. 1. We last had three in a row between Sept. 3-24, 2011. That’s when Jay Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne,” the Game’s “The R.E.D. Album” and Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter IV” all spent their initial weeks at No. 1.
Further, “Magna Carta” also gives the hip-hop icon his 13th No. 1 — extending his record for the most chart-toppers by a solo act in history. Among all artists, only the Beatles — with 19 No. 1s — have more. Tied for the third-most No. 1s are Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Presley, who each have 10 leaders.
Jay Z has seen every one of his solo studio albums reach No. 1 since 1998’s “Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life,” which also happened to mark his first No. 1. His 13 chart-toppers also include three collaborative albums: one each with R. Kelly, Linkin Park and West, respectively.
“Magna Carta’s” bow is bigger than industry sources had forecast a week ago. Initially, the day before it hit retailers on July 9, the album was heading for a possible debut in the range of 350,000 to 400,000. Two days later, its forecast jumped to 450,000 to 500,000. And finally, by Friday (July 12), the range was fine-tuned to 475,000 to 500,000.
The album’s robust sales wasn’t seemingly negatively impacted by the set’s unique promotion with Samsung. One million download copies of the album were available for free via an app promotion with the electronics company. The set became available on July 4 to certain Samsung phone and tablet users who had downloaded a Jay Z-centric app.
“Magna Carta” marks Jay Z’s fourth album to debut with more than a half-million copies in a week. It is also his largest sales week for any album since 2006’s “Kingdom Come” entered at No. 1 with 680,000. His last solo studio album, 2009’s “The Blueprint 3,” opened at No. 1 with 476,000 sold. His next project, 2011’s “Watch the Throne,” bowed with 436,000.