So, on weeks that are kinda dead when it comes to chart activity, I really have two options-either we go back in time and look at an old album chart, or we take a look at charts in other genres. Last time around, we took a look at the album charts from 1992, so what say we switch things up and look at this week’s top selling albums-but on the R&B/hip-hop side?
1) Goblin | Tyler the Creator
2) Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 | The Beastie Boys
3) Stone Rollin’ | Raphael Saadiq
4) F.A.M.E. | Chris Brown
5) Rolling Papers | Wiz Khalifa
6) Ultimate Collection | Sade
7) Hello Fear | Kirk Franklin
8) Loud | Rihanna
9) Pink Friday | Nicki Minaj
10) Lasers | Lupe Fiasco
11) Musiqinthemagiq | Musiq Soulchild
12) Recovery | Eminem
13) All I Want is You | Miguel
14) Kelly | Kelly Price
15) I Remember Me | Jennifer Hudson
16) Late Nights & Early Mornings | Marsha Ambrosius
17) The Lady Killer | Cee-Lo Green
18) Something Big | Mary Mary
19) Love Letter | R. Kelly
20) Road from Memphis | Booker T. Jones
Interesting list-one that sort of encompasses just about every possible subgenre of contemporary black music. Only one album in the top ten of that chart could legitimately, no-questions-asked be called R&B, and that’s Raphael Saadiq’s Stone Rollin’. Beyond that, you’ve got hip-hop, courtesy of indie rapper Tyler the Creator (who scores one of the year’s most surprising debuts), the legendary Beastie Boys, veteran Lupe Fiasco and upstarts Nicki Minaj and Wiz Khalifa. Rihanna and Chris Brown represent dance/pop with an R&B flavoring (I still flash back to Rihanna herself expressing surprise at winning an American Music Award in an R&B category), while Kirk Franklin is contemporary gospel and Sade is adult-contemporary pop with jazz and soul flavorings. Hell, their latest single is a Thin Lizzy cover! Maybe more interesting is that none of the artists in the Top 3 are getting played with any regularity on contemporary urban radio. Maybe most interesting is the fact that the album that holds at #1 on the all-encompassing album chart for an eighth week (Adele’s 21) is more legitimately soulful (in multiple senses of the word) than anything in the Top 10.
Elsewhere on this chart, it’s worth noting Kelly Price’s comeback. After a run of hits in the late Nineties, the former backup singer for Mariah Carey fell off the radar for a while. The fact that she’s enjoying solid sales for her new album speaks to the void for some legitimate soul-singin’. The adult audience seems to have very little to grasp on to, although I guess if you look at Musiq Soulchild’s eight notch plunge in Week 2, you could make a case for that audience not really giving a shit. Personally, I think Musiq’s alarming drop can be attributed to the fact that he hasn’t changed much musically in the decade since his debut. As someone who owns all six of Musiq’s albums, I’d say the last four at least have been almost completely interchangeable.
On the big chart, it seems like folks are just biding their time before Lady Gaga’s Born This Way arrives on May 23rd. It will be reflected on the album chart in two weeks. I’m going to go out on a limb and bet on a week in the 500K range for Miss Germanotta. Meantime, Adele will rank at the top for a ninth week, as there are no releases set to challenge her. Couldn’t Brad Paisley’s album have been bumped up a week so as not to compete with Gaga and also to give the man a chart-topper? Geez.