The rapper Drake cruised to number one on the US charts Wednesday with his new album, even though he released it only digitally and with no prior publicity.
The Canadian hip-hop artist and actor last Thursday suddenly dropped on iTunes and streaming services “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late,” which features collaborations with Madonna and Lil Wayne.
Drake has not announced any physical release for the work, which he described as a mix-tape as he works on a full-length album.
Nonetheless, “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” sold nearly 500,000 copies even without bricks-and-mortar store sales, the strongest first-week showing since Taylor Swift’s blockbuster “1989” last year, according to tracking service Nielsen SoundScan.
Drake’s work took the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart for the week that ended on February 15, dethroning “1989” which had been accompanied by a massive marketing effort by Swift.
Since late last year, the Billboard chart has factored in streaming and not just physical and digital sales.
Raised in Toronto, Drake became a teenage star on Canadian television before releasing his first mix-tape in 2006.
He eventually signed up with Lil Wayne’s Young Money label. Drake’s first three full-length albums all debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.
Releasing an album out of the blue, while not the norm, has become increasingly common for musicians troubled by a growing frequency of leaks and a changing music marketing landscape.
Superstar Beyonce released a self-titled album, accompanied by a full set of videos, with no prior notice in late 2013.
Similarly, R&B artist D’Angelo in December released his first album in 14 years, the critically acclaimed “Black Messiah,” with no previous announcement.