LOS ANGELES: As Nicki Minaj wrote recently in a since-deleted Instagram post: “It’s a great time to be a white rapper in America, huh?”
The Billboard chart this week speaks to her point: Eminem, the white rapper against whom all other white rappers are judged, is at No. 1 with Revival; at No. 3 is G-Eazy, a West Coast variant who has seamlessly crossed over into pop with The Beautiful & Damned. Both debuted with six-figure sales in their first week.
Eminem, a stubbornly consistent artist in the musical sense, is also something of a throwback commercially: He can still sell a lot of albums, streaming aside. Revival (Interscope), his eighth major-label LP, had 197,000 in traditional album sales (including physical copies and downloads) and added a robust 82 million streams in its first week for a total of 267,000 album equivalent units, according to Nielsen.
The album, a self-lacerating work that also takes aim at President Donald Trump, is Eminem’s eighth in a row to debut at No. 1, a Billboard record.
G-Eazy went a route more common in hip-hop today, relying heavily on digital streams: The Beautiful & Damned, with its hit singles No Limit and Him & I, sold 68,000 copies and tallied 70 million streams for a total of 122,000 units by the industry’s math.
Sandwiched between the rappers at No. 2 is Taylor Swift, whose new album, Reputation, spent three weeks at No. 1 but has been kept from landing there more by high-profile releases from U2, Luke Bryan and now Eminem. Ahead of Christmas, Swift’s album sold another 105,000 copies and had 35 million streams for an equivalent of 133,000 units. Her album remains the only one of the year to top 1 million copies in pure sales.
Two stalwarts round out the Top 5: Ed Sheeran’s “÷” is No. 4 in its 42nd week on the chart, and Pentatonix’s A Pentatonix Christmas, initially released last holiday season, is No. 5. Last week’s No. 1, Bryan’s What Makes You Country, fell to No. 8. -- NYT