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Nas tops Billboard charts with 'Life Is Good'

July 26, 2012|By August Brown
  • Musician Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, aka Nas, performs during the OpenAir music festival in Frauenfeld, Switzerland
Musician Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, aka Nas, performs during the OpenAir… (Ennio Leanza / EPA )

The latest Billboard charts had some great news for the rapper Nas, and some disquieting news for the hip-hop and music businesses at large.

First, the positives: the legendary MC scored the sixth Billboard No. 1 album of his storied career with "Life Is Good," his well-received album about the dissolution of his marriage. It sold 149,000 copies in its first week of release.

While Nas has always been critically lauded, since the 2000's he hasn't had the leviathan sales of peers like Jay-Z or Lil Wayne,who still frequently clear gold status in their first-week sales. This feat should cement his late-career renaissance as a triumph of perseverance in a genre that rarely rewards age and perspective (even if that's been changing lately).

The less-great news for the music biz, though? Wind the clock back four years, when Nas' "Untitled" hit the same spot with 187,000 in its first week. These days of diminishing CD sales, it simply takes less to be No. 1.

The figures look even slimmer when compared to his best-selling LP, 1996's "It Was Written," which bowed at 266,000 its opening week and eventually went triple platinum worldwide; his best opening week was on 1999's "I Am..." which hit close to 500,000.

Lessons here? Nas should definitely be cracking some champagne bottles to celebrate his longevity and continued vital role in American hip-hop. But given the steady downward slide of album sales in general, maybe a mid-shelf bubbly would suffice.


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