(October 6, 2020).  The fact that a veteran rapper gets his first No. 1 by recording a rock album would be the most unusual music news in most weeks. 

But Machine Gun Kelly’s accomplishment is not even the second oddest thing that happened on this week’s Billboard charts.  

His album, Tickets to My Downfall, enters the Billboard 200 at No. 1 by earning 126,000 album-equivalent units, most of which was due to streaming – a normal occurrence in the 21st century.  It’s his first album (out of seven tries) to reach No. 1 and also his first not to reach the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop or Hot Rap albums charts.

Instead, the album debuts at the top of the Rock Albums chart, his first entry there.

But it’s what powers the second-most popular rock album – as well as what another veteran rapper accomplished on the singles chart – that makes for a more interesting week of Billboard chart achievements.

Alternative metal band Deftones

First, the veteran alt-metal rock band Deftones enters the Top Rock Albums chart at No. 2 (behind Machine Gun Kelly) with their new set titled Ohms.  It débuts mostly on the strength of 14,000 vinyl LPs sold this past week (from its Sept. 25 release through Oct. 1).  That hefty 14K total makes it the top-selling vinyl LP this week and one of the top weekly vinyl sales totals this year.  

Those numbers also allow the album to enter the all-genre Billboard 200 chart at a very respectable No. 5, a significantly higher position than it would have attained without the vinyl contribution.  In fact, without the vinyl sales, Deftones could’ve fallen below the chart’s top-10 threshold this week (this week’s No. 10 album by rapper Tory Lanes débuts with 36,000 equivalent units – mostly the result of streaming).

Ohms’ vinyl-less total was just 35,000 units.

Deftones’ album ‘Ohms’ is the No. 2 Rock album and No. 5 album overall on the Billboard charts this week, thanks largely to vinyl sales.

The Sacramento band Deftones are a highly respected five-man act who’ve been around for more than three decades and who’ve charted nine albums in their career with never more than four years separating their releases.  Their last album, 2016’s Gore, debuted at No. 2, and is tied with their self-titled 2003 album for their highest-peaking set to date.  

The fact that this enduring rock band is still able to generate top-10 album consumption numbers in 2020 when so many of their rock contemporaries of the ‘90s and ‘00s would kill to do the same, is impressive.  The fact that nearly 30% of Ohms’ sales came by way of vinyl records is nothing short of astounding!

But that feat may pale in comparison to the bizarre one a veteran rapper achieves on the Hot 100 singles list with his latest release.

Rapper Travis Scott

Rapper Travis Scott débuts at No. 1 on that chart by selling 98,000 copies of his new single “Franchise,” a collaboration with fellow rappers Young Thug and M.I.A.

It’s Scott’s fourth No. 1 overall and third to debut at the top.  All three of those debuts have occurred in the past twelve months – a record for any artist.  

But it’s the 98,000 copies sold by “Franchise” that place Scott and Co. in a unique category.  Of those 98K, 58,000 were cassette and CD singles, with the remaining 40,000 from paid digital downloads.

That’s 58,000 cassette and CD singles, a number without which Scott’s hit likely would have debuted at No. 2 or even No. 3 behind the still globally popular tunes by BTS (“Dynamite”) and Cardi B. feat. Megan Thee Stallion (“WAP”).

Without the 58K in cassette and CD singles sales, “Franchise” (40K digital; 10M airplay audience) was significantly behind “Dynamite” (86K digital; 23.1M airplay) in digital sales and airplay.  Scott’s streaming lead (19.3M vs 13.7M) over BTS would likely not have been enough to overcome his deficit in the other two metrics.

It’s probable that “Franchise” would’ve ranked behind “WAP” as well, as the metaphor-filled sexual rant more than triples the streaming numbers of Scott’s hit.

As further indication of how the cassette and CD singles sales helped Scott’s cause here in America, “Franchise” is the first Hot 100 No. 1 that doesn’t mimic the No. 1 on the Global 200 chart, Billboard’s month-old chart that ranks songs based on their weighted worldwide streams and digital downloads in more than 200 territories.  

For the first three weeks of the Global 200 chart’s existence, the No. 1 songs have matched those on the Hot 100, with “WAP” reigning the first two weeks and “Dynamite” taking over last week on both lists.  This week, “WAP” returns to No. 1 on the Global 200 chart while “Dynamite” dips to No. 2.  Scott’s “Franchise” reigns on the Hot 100 but debuts on the Global 200 at No. 7.

Apparently, the CD and cassette singles of “Franchise,” which Scott sold at a discount from his website, didn’t factor much into the worldwide picture, but it clearly made a difference here in the U.S.

Travis Scott has had four Hot 100 No. 1 hits since 2018

We all knew about vinyl’s resurgence, but could this be the beginning of a renaissance for the cassingle as well?  

Or the real question might be – what are consumers even playing cassettes on these days?

Anyway, congrats goes to Travis Scott, Young Thug and M.I.A. plus the Deftones on their latest achievements!

Oh, and a shout-out goes to Machine Gun Kelly as well! We hear you crossing genres and getting that first No. 1!


DJRob is a freelance blogger from Chicago who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.

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By DJ Rob

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