This week Jay-Z earns his 14th #1 album on the Billboard 200; Scoreboard remembers Chester Bennington
Billboard Artist Top 10
For the magazine dated July 29, 2017
See the full chart at http://www.billboard.com/charts/artist-100
|Billboard Artist Top 10||Name||Billboard 200 Album Rank||Billboard Hot 100 Singles||Highest Charting Single|
|1||Jay-Z||1||9||23: The Story Of OJ|
|2||Ed Sheeran||5||2||5: Shape Of You|
|3||Bruno Mars||11||3||4: That’s What I Like|
|4||Kendrick Lamar||3||5||6: Humble|
|5||DJ Khaled||4||2||2: Wild Thoughts|
|6||Imagine Dragons||6||2||7: Believer|
|7||Shawn Mendes||17||1||8: There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back|
|8||21 Savage||2||2||33: Bank Account|
|9||Justin Bieber||87||3||1: Despacito (Remix)|
|10||Selena Gomez||–||3||22: It Ain’t Me|
When Jay-Z releases a new album, it will go to #1 on the Billboard 200. That rule has held for every single solo album Shawn Carter has released starting with 1998’s Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life. During that time he also took three out of four collaboration albums to #1 (with R. Kelly, Linkin Park, and Kanye West). This week, he did it again with 4:44, earning his 14th #1 album on that chart, ahead of all other solo artists and only behind The Beatles, who have 19 #1 albums in the history of the chart. While at it, Jay-Z also took #1 on the Artist 100 and at the top of the Hot 100 “Despacito (Remix)” by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber stayed at #1 for the tenth week in a row. The week also had its share of sad music news as Linkin Park’s lead singer Chester Bennington was found dead in Los Angeles.
Atlanta rapper 21 Savage has the week’s second biggest new album, Issa Album
There is a certain weight that comes with being Jay-Z. Although he is one of the greatest rappers of all time, sitting on the throne exposes Jay-Z to high scrutiny as critics assess whether he still has the talent that made him a superstar. There is also Jay-Z the “business, man,” whose net worth is closely monitored on the Forbes list. Among his business ventures, the subscription-streaming service Tidal is especially scrutinized. Jay’s exclusive release of 4:44 on Tidal received both praise and consternation, even though the album was widely distributed to most streaming platforms a week later. And finally there is Jay-Z the husband to Beyoncé and father to Blue Ivy, Rumi, and Sir. On last year’s Lemonade Queen Bey aired her dirty laundry and in 2017 it’s Hova’s turn to speak.
So what do we get on 4:44? For the hip-hop community there is “Moonlight,” which refers to the Oscar-winning film, but on which Jay-Z saves his fire for young rappers who do not know any better and still sign bad deals “after what [the record companies] done to our Lauryn Hill.” When it comes to being a business, man, Jay expresses frustration on “Family Feud,” chastising hip-hop fans for “merrily eatin’ off these streams” and not paying sticker price for Tidal. And then, of course, there is the family drama. 4:44am was the time Jay-Z woke up and recorded the song that would also give the album its title. On “4:44” Hov apologizes to his superstar wife for his womanizing and contemplates the weight of being Jay-Z, one who could “cry and die alone in these mansions” if he continued with his wayward ways. It’s a stunning admission on a devastating album. 4:44 may not become a source of hit singles, but it may well become one of the greatest grown-up hip-hop albums of all time.
Jay-Z may not be on Instagram, but his and Beyoncé’s twins are
R.I.P. Chester Bennington (1976-2017)
It was only nine weeks ago that I wrote about the untimely passing of Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave. This week, a similar tragedy struck as Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, was found dead in his home, a death that was confirmed as a suicide by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. Bennington and Cornell were friends and performed together on a few occasions. Just in May, Bennington performed Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s funeral, and Bennington took his own life on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday. Bennington was 41 and had his own demons. He has spoken (and sang) about addiction problems and has also been transparent about being molested as a child. In his memory, Linkin Park set up a suicide prevention website, pushing the conversation about mental health forward and promoting mental health awareness in sight of this shocking loss.
Bennington will be remembered as one of the fiercest rock singers of the last two decades, able to flex between ballads and screaming matches, seldom taking a rest to let Linkin Park’s rapper Mike Shinoda have his turn. Just seven weeks ago, Chester, Mike, and the @linkinpark squad took #1 on the Billboard 200 with their seventh album One More Light. When I wrote about it, I wondered if the band was going in a positive pop direction while channeling the success of Twenty One Pilots. On it, the album brought energy, charisma, and Kiiara. However, even the success of One More Light could not prevent Chester’s passing, a reminder that perception does not equal reality. Check out Bennington at his finest on current single “Talking To Myself:”