If early numbers continue, and despite what some are calling low quality, the surprise album that Drake dropped on his fans will be his fourth to hit No. 1 on Billboard’s 200 chart. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late dropped at midnight on February 13.
The album of 17 songs is being called out for having a low-quality production value with only one featured artist, namely Lil Wayne. Vox likens it to a mix tape on which Drake recorded experimental songs and then gave to his closest friends. The harshest criticism of the album seems to be that it sounds exactly like what it is – “a contractual obligation.”
Forecasts are predicting that the collection of songs, released via Young Money/Cash Money/Republic Records, will hit the top of the chart next week. Some sources believe the new effort by Drake could sell up to 400,000 units before the tracking week ends on Sunday, Feb. 15. If the industry insiders are correct, the new album would achieve the most sales of a rap album since The Marshall Mathers LP 2 by Eminem, which sold 792,000 copies in its first week of release.
Drake fans had been anticipating a new album called View from the 6, with the six referencing the number of boroughs in Toronto, from where Drake hails. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was considered by Drake’s fans to be an offering meant to appease them while they waited for the new album. Fans also believed the album would be free, but it was offered for sale for $12.99 on iTunes. Speculation is that the surprise album was dropped solely to complete his contract with Cash Money Records, a label with which he has had difficulty in the past.
Releasing this album could signify the last record Drake had to make with the label, freeing him up to move to another. The hype that it builds for View from the 6 is then just an added benefit. However, Drake released the same type of mixtapes – for free – before releasing his last two albums. Selling If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late instead of dropping it for no cost might be a sly way of fulfilling his contract, but should he decide to remain with Cash Money, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200, despite the lower quality effort, would surely pave the way for a bigger contract.
Billboard’s 200 chart consolidates sales from traditional albums, streaming equivalent albums and track equivalent albums in order to rank them by popularity. The top 10 albums for the week (from Monday to Sunday) are released on Wednesdays.
The success of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late means that the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, also released by Republic Records, will be prevented from topping the chart. The soundtrack dropped as scheduled on Feb. 10 and was predicted to sell up to 160,000 copies, reaching number one on the Billboard 200 in the process.
Should Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late hit the top spot for the week ending Feb. 15, it will be his fourth to lead the list as well as his first to hit the chart at number one, despite its lower quality production. His previous chart-topping albums were Thank Me Later, Take Care, and Nothing Was the Same.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Image by Tom Øverlie – Flickr License