True story. Yesterday I saw that Drake's Views album was once again the number one album in the country and I started and stopped an article on it about five times. It was obviously important news, but did the world need another "Drake is really popular" article to understand that Drake is really popular? What did I have to add to the conversation that wouldn't just be a rehash of what I'd already written and what so many others had already posted?
But there's another story unfolding on the charts that no one is talking about - or almost no one. A couple months ago I wrote about the jaw-dropping news that Kevin Gates' Islah album had almost outsold Adele and Rihanna, and today the good people over at The Smoking Section also noticed that if you dig a little deeper on the charts, past Drake and Beyoncé and Rihanna, you'll see that Gates' recent Murder for Hire 2 album is currently at number twelve, and with Islah still putting numbers on the board, that gives Gates two simultaneous Top 20 albums.
1. Drake – Views – 152,069
3. Beyoncé – Lemonade – 79,310
7. Rihanna – ANTI – 42,269
8. Flume – Skin – 31,489
12. Kevin Gates – Murder For Hire II – 27,093
16. Prince – The Very Best of Prince – 22,366
17. G-Eazy – When It’s Dark Out – 22,165
19. Kevin Gates – Islah – 21,340
21. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo – 18,840
23. Bryson Tiller – Trapsoul – 17,068
Without a fraction of the hype or attention Gates is quietly proving that he's not just a social media giant, he's a rapper capable of consistently moving the kind of album numbers that make him just as popular, or more popular, than many of his more acclaimed peers. And while he certainly has a major label machine behind him, he's doing it without the big co-signs and usual headlining spots we usually associate with popularity.
Gates obviously has something far more powerful than any proximity to a famous rapper, he has a hardcore fan base dedicated to supporting his releases not just with their ears but with their wallets as well. You may love his music, you may not, but like Bryson Tiller, the simple numbers say that if you're ignoring Gates' impact on new music, you're doing so at your own peril.