J. Cole’s The Off-Season barges in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with 2021’s biggest week for a hip-hop release, as the set launches with 282,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending May 20, according to MRC Data. The Off-Season was released via Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope on May 14 and also scores the year’s largest streaming week for any album.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units. Units comprise album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from an album, or 3,750 ad-supported or 1,250 paid/subscription on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album. The new May 29, 2021-dated chart (where The Off-Season debuts at No. 1) will be posted in full on Billboard‘s website on May 25. For all chart news, follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.
Of The Off-Season’s 282,000 equivalent album units earned in the tracking week ending May 20, SEA units comprise 243,000 (equaling 325.05 million on-demand streams of the album’s tracks), album sales comprise 37,000 (making it the top-selling album of the week) and TEA units comprise 2,000.
In terms of total units earned, The Off-Season has the largest week of 2021 for a hip-hop album, and the second-biggest overall to only the debut frame of Taylor Swift’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version) with 291,000 units (April 24-dated chart).
The Off-Season starts with 243,000 SEA units, totaling 325.05 million on-demand streams of the album’s 12 tracks — that sum marks the biggest streaming week for an album in 2021. It surpasses the previous high-water mark for the year, when Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album debuted with 240.18 million streams for its 30 songs in its first week (chart dated Jan. 23). The Off-Season keeps up J. Cole’s hot streak on the chart, as all six of his studio albums have reached No. 1.
The Off-Season follows the chart-topping KOD (2018), 4 Your Eyez Only (2016), 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014), Born Sinner (2013) and Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011). (All but Born Sinner also debuted at No. 1. Born bowed at No. 2, and then rose to No. 1 a week later.) J. Cole’s only chart entry to miss the top slot was a live album, 2016’s Forest Hills Drive: Live, which reached No. 71.