Pop Smoke and ‘Hamilton’ Shake Up the Billboard Chart


The posthumous debut album by the Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, who was shot and killed in February, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart this week, arriving as one of the biggest releases of a slow summer in the music business, one of countless industries greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon,” Pop Smoke’s third career release following two mixtapes, had the largest opening week since Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica” in early June, earning the equivalent of 251,000 albums sold, factoring in both streaming and traditional sales. Songs from the album were streamed 268 million times — the fourth best streaming week of the year — while bundles of the music and merchandise helped lead to 59,000 units in sales, according to Nielsen.

Pop Smoke, born Bashar Jackson, was shot and killed during a home invasion in the Hollywood Hills earlier this year, interrupting his meteoric mainstream rise from the streets of Canarsie, Brooklyn, where he was at the forefront of the bubbling drill scene. Last week, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested five men in connection with the crime.

In the No. 2 spot this week is the original Broadway cast recording of “Hamilton,” which reached its highest chart placement in its 250th week on Billboard, surging nearly 300 percent thanks to the July 3 streaming premiere of the filmed version of the show on Disney+. The cast album, released in September 2015, previously peaked at No. 3 on the chart in 2016, following its 11 wins at that year’s Tony Awards. This time, songs from “Hamilton” were streamed 90 million times — a record for cast recordings — and the album sold 32,000 units, for a one-week total of 102,000.

The arrival of Pop Smoke and the resurgence of “Hamilton” bumped the rapper Lil Baby’s “My Turn,” which sat at No. 1 for the last four weeks in lieu of major new releases, to No. 3 in its 19th week on the chart. “Blame It on Baby” by DaBaby fell one spot to No. 4, while Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding” landed at No. 5.

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