Kendrick Lamar shocked his fans last week by releasing his new album digitally a week before it was expected.
But given the widespread commotion it caused -- including the year’s most admiring reviews -- few were surprised Wednesday when “To Pimp a Butterfly” entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1.
Lamar’s third studio LP topped the chart with sales of 324,000 albums and nearly 39 million streams, according to Nielsen Music. Last week the Times reported that the Los Angeles rapper set a record on Spotify when “Butterfly” was streamed more than 9.6 million times on its first day of availability.
Lamar now has the second-fastest selling album of 2015, with only Drake ahead of him. Last month the Canadian MC’s “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” debuted at No. 1 on sales of 495,000 copies.
More impressively, “Butterfly” notched bigger sales in its first week than Lamar’s previous album, a rarity in an industry whose overall sales have been on a downward slide for the last decade. In 2012 Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” sold 241,000 copies to enter the chart at No. 2.
Behind Lamar on this week’s tally, the soundtrack of Fox’s smash-hit television show “Empire” came in at No. 2, reflecting sales and streams of 110,000 so-called equivalent album units.
Modest Mouse, the long-running alternative-rock band, reached No. 3 with “Strangers to Ourselves,” its first album since 2007, followed by the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack at No. 4 and Taylor Swift’s “1989" at No. 5.