Imagine if Billboard magazine had counted those one million Samsung downloads.
Even without the artificial lift from the free milli offered by Samsung, Jay-Z could still land the year’s second-highest chart debut if initial sales projections for Magna Carta Holy Grail hold.
According to Billboard, Jay’s latest is expected to sell in the 350,000-400,000 range for the week ending July 14. (Those projections are based on pre-orders through digital retailers.) If the numbers hold, Jay is assured a #1 debut, which would give him a record 13th #1 bow, extending his streak as the solo artist with the most #1s in history. He still trails the Beatles, who have the all-time record of 19.
If Jay lands in that zone, he will surpass the year’s second and third-best debuts so far, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (339,000) and pal Kanye West’s Yeezus (327,000). He’s a far cry from 2013′s undisputed first week sales champ, though, as Justin Timberlake’s gaudy 968,000 for The 20/20 Experience still reigns supreme.
Jay seems poised to continue his streak, but the MCHG numbers are also a bit lower than his two most recent efforts, 2009′s The Blueprint 3, which opened with 476,000 and his Kanye collabo Watch the Throne, which sold 436,000 in its first frame.
And while Jay did manage to get the RIAA to play by his #newrules and change their stance on what qualifies for gold and platinum sales status, Billboard has steadfastly refused to count the Samsung giveaway in its first-week sales figures. That means that instead of opening platinum and tacking on the potential 350,000-plus to his first week total for what would surely have been the year’s biggest open, Jay has to be content with second place for now.