Billboard reports that Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. has had the most successful release of any album in 2017 thus far. It’s not a huge surprise that year’s most lyrical, dense, and ferocious album is also now its #1 (this is the rapper’s third atop the Billboard 200, following Untitled Unmastered and To Pimp a Butterfly), though apparently it exceeded expectations, and had been foreseen as coming in with 50,000 less album units in its first week.
According to Nielsen Music’s scores of the week ending on April 20, DAMN. ultimately earned 603,000 album units in its first week in existence. Drake’s More Life, released in March, earned 505,000 units — which had previously made it the year’s highest earner. (More Life, however, still had a larger streaming week. The whole “album unit” thing — which makes music sound like something deeply inhuman — however, means a composite reading of album sales, track equivalent albums, and streaming equivalent albums.)
And Ed Sheeran’s ÷ [Divide] had previously earned the highest traditional album sales, but Kendrick’s new LP surpassed it at 353,000 in its first week. And, as Pitchfork reports, speaking of unseating Ed Sheeran (an activity that sounds quite rewarding), the album’s lead single, “HUMBLE.” has finally knocked “Shape of You” out of its #1 slot. (In “HUMBLE.”‘s first week, “Shape of You” had stubbornly lain there like a vaguely sexualized anvil.) Kendrick finally also unseated even his former self: this is his biggest opening week of his career thus far.