Kendrick Lamar’s “Mr. Morale’ debuts at #1 with best numbers for 2022

Kendrick Lamar had this year with “Mr. Moral & the Big Steppers,” his first album in five years and fourth at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

The truly long-awaited release came hot, according to Luminate via Billboard, with 295,500 album unit equivalents earned in the US in the week ending May 19th.

It’s the third straight week that a new bar has been set for the best debut of 2022 yet. Lamar claims the record means Bad Bunny’s summer blockbuster Un Verano Sin Ti only had a week to hold the title; it debuted at number 1 last week with 274,000 equivalent album units. The week before, Future’s “I Never Liked You” premiered with 222,000.

In the five years since his 2017 release of culture-changing Damn (which spent four weeks on the Billboard 200), Lamar became the first hip-hop artist to win the Pulitzer Prize, earning an Oscar nomination for his Contributor to “Black Panther,” founded a media company, performed at the Super Bowl and announced his upcoming departure from the TDE label.

When diversity‘s Andrew Barker, in his review of the 72-minute, 19-track album, wrote: “Mr. “Moral & The Big Steppers” deals almost exclusively with the long stretches that Lamar spent in between out of the limelight. He’s been through a lot since we last heard from him and he’s never been more willing to share them all.”

Also in the top 10 was big hit group Tomorrow X Together, who achieved their second top 10 album and highest charting release to date with the No. 4 debut of “Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child” with 68,500 equivalent album units. The vast majority of that number, 65,500 units, came from sales rather than streaming. As is usual with major K-pop artists, the album was released in a variety of collectible packs – in this case, eight different CD variations. Virtually all fans who bought the album wanted one of these physical bundles as with 500 sales for digital downloads there were next to none. On-demand streams totaled 4.37 million as fans leaned toward ownership.

Florence and the Machine charted at No. 7 with the group’s fourth Top 10 album, Dance Fever, which debuted with 54,000 album units. With 42,500 beers, whole albums made up the largest part of this balance sheet.

The Black Keys also hit their sixth top 10 with the No. 8 start of “Dropout Boogie.” It comes just a year after the Keys’ last release, “Delta Kream,” which debuted and peaked at No. 6. The new “Dropout” fell in at 33,000 equivalent album units. This album was also primarily driven by album sales, which took in 27,500.

Lamar’s latest effort logs saw the second-biggest streaming week of 2022 for any album, with 343.02 million on-demand streams. That’s past the high water mark Bad Bunny’s release hit last week, but “Un Verano Sin Ti” held an edge over “Mr. Moral & The Big Steppers” in this division with 23 tracks, five more than appearing on Lamar’s album.

Lamar’s initial sales figure of 35,000 came solely from digital album sales, as the set will not be released in any physical format until May 27, when it comes out on CD. This sales figure marks the biggest week of sales for a digital album in 2022, and the biggest of any album since Adele’s ’30’, with 205,000 digital albums sold in the first week of autumn.

At #2 on the new chart, Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti” was still a powerhouse with a strong 182,000 album units in its second week, down 34%. Future’s “I Never Liked You” also held up well in third week with 89,500 units and a minus of 23%.

Among the holdover albums, Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” fell one place to No. 5, and Jack Harlow’s “Come Home the Kids Miss You” fell three places to No. 6 in its second week. Two former No. 1s hold the last two spots in the top 10, while Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” — now celebrating its first birthday — falls four places to No. 9, and Lil Durk’s “7220” is relegated three places to No. 10. Kendrick Lamar’s “Mr. Morale’ debuts at #1 with best numbers for 2022

Charles Jones

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