Lil Uzi Vert Debuts at No. 1, Leading a SoundCloud Wave

Lil Uzi Vert Debuts at No. 1, Leading a SoundCloud Wave


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Lil Uzi Vert at the MTV Video Music Awards in August. His new album, “Luv Is Rage 2,” debuted at No. 1.

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Danny Moloshok/Reuters

A new generation of rappers with anarchic approaches to social media and free digital distribution on platforms like SoundCloud is riding the streaming wave into the mainstream. On the Billboard album chart this week, two auspicious debuts from leading figures of that movement — Lil Uzi Vert, 23, and XXXTentacion, 19 — marked their commercial arrival by outpacing an array of more traditional releases.

“Luv Is Rage 2” (Generation Now/Atlantic), by the breakout hip-hop experimentalist Lil Uzi Vert, hit No. 1 in its first week, totaling 135,000 album equivalent units, according to Nielsen, with just 28,000 in traditional album sales and a load-bearing 151 million streams. That was good enough for the third-largest streaming debut this year after Drake’s “More Life” and Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.”

XXXTentacion, a troubling and controversial figure because of his repeated legal issues — he is awaiting trial on charges of beating a pregnant woman — came in at No. 2. His “17” (Bad Vibes Forever/Empire), a left-field collection that mixes rap with depressive folk music, sold 18,000 copies in addition to its 100 million streams for a total of 87,000 units by the industry’s formula, which combines album sales, streams and track downloads.

Under those two releases were albums by Queens of the Stone Age (“Villains”) and Fifth Harmony (self-titled), which beat “Luv Is Rage 2” and “17” in sales but faltered in streams. “Villains” (Matador) added just six million streams to its 69,000 in sales, landing at No. 3, while “Fifth Harmony” (Epic/Syco) had 32,000 albums sold and 17 million streams. Mr. Lamar’s “DAMN.” (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope) came in at No. 5 with another 43 million streams almost five months after its debut.

Taylor Swift — the elephant in the room during any music industry discussion for the rest of the year (at least) — is also making her presence felt. “Look What You Made Me Do,” the lead single from her coming album “Reputation” (Nov. 10), finished its first week with a staggering 81 million streams and 353,000 downloads as it aims to unseat the “Despacito” remix, by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (featuring Justin Bieber), which has spent a record-tying 16 consecutive weeks at No. 1.



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