The Migos dropped Culture II, the follow-up to their breakout record Culture last week. This week, they find themselves at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album’s been a streaming behemoth. Tracks like “Motorsport” and “Stir Fry” propelled the trio to 190,000 equivalent units moved in the week ending February 2. That’s the highest equivalent unit tally for an album since April 2017 according to Billboard.
This is their second straight number one album. Last year’s Culture also went No. 1 with 131,000 units in January 2017. The group becomes only the fifth rap group in history with multiple number one records to land on the Billboard 200. The others are A Tribe Called Quest, The Beastie Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and D12.
But how did they get there? Craig Jenkins at Vulture says rappers are starting to game the system. He’s probably right. We’ve seen an influx of overly long records recently. Drake’s Views and More Life pour in at 20 and 24 tracks apiece. Why? Perhaps it’s, as Jenkins writes, that “Drake figured out that the Recording Industry Association of America counts ten song downloads as a full download of an album…” It’s a compelling argument.
Both More Life and Views charted entire swathes of the album on the Billboard 100 chart, making history. And there was news recently of another No. 1 playing the algorithms to Billboard success: Post Malone’s “Rockstar.” In September of 2017, Republic Records sneakily uploaded a video of the chorus to the song on a loop on YouTube. It quickly racked up 50 million views. As the Recording Industry Of America allows that 150 views equal one paid download, the gimmick helped Malone immensely.
Whether it’s super long records or Youtube spoofs, is this new recording industry game distorting who reaches the top of the charts? I guess we’ll Billboard and Nielsen figure it out. In the meantime, congrats to the Migos for smashing their second No.1 album, a feat that puts dead smack in the middle of hip-hop history.