Record sales are now in from the last full week, and ScHoolboy Q's new Blank Face LP had a deceptively solid showing.
With nearly universal critical acclaim for the album, the first week sales and streams total 73,935 album equivalent units (streaming plus pure sales), good enough for No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200. By comparison, Q's 2014 album Oxymoron sold 139,000 copies in its first week.
It would be easy to look at the numbers, see the dip in sales and assume the album was a flop. But when considering the circumstances facing the album, the TDE emcee is still doing exceedingly well. Q managed to move nearly 74,000 units without any of the surefire singles that Oxymoron had like "Break The Bank," "Hell of a Night" or "Studio" (Blank Face has some joints, but nothing undeniably radio friendly like "Studio," not even "Overtime"). And if it weren't for the continued reign of Drake’s Views, Blank Face would have been Q’s second number one album in a row.
To place Q on a scale with other rap artists in 2016: A$AP Ferg scored 35,000 first week sales from his latest effort, Chance clocked in the equivalent of 38,009 copies (since Coloring Book was only available to stream on Apple Music), and Wiz Khalifa’s new album Khalifa sold 69,000 in its first seven days. Q isn't outselling Kendrick, Cole or Drake, but aside from the occasional surprise like Kevin Gates, he doesn't have much competition in his peer group. He's not commercially elite, but he's damn close.
ScHoolboy Q made a gangsta rap album with very few concessions, and fans showed him they supported the decision. Q is playing the long game, and his career will benefit from it. He may not seem like a rap superstar, but make no mistake -- the man truly is breaking the bank.
By William Ketchum III, aka @WEKetchum
Photo Credit: Instagram (Sam Balaban)