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charting

Big Sean and Kid Rock vie for chart dominance

Big Sean performs in Los Angeles.Colin Young-Wolff/Invision for REVOLT TV/AP Images/Invision for REVOLT TV

On first glance, the gap between the top two records on the most recent Billboard 200 seems vast: Kanye West protégé Big Sean’s third album, “Dark Sky Paradise,” moved 173,000 units, while his fellow Michigander Kid Rock’s “First Kiss” moved 146,000. But digging deeper reveals the race between these two Detroit-based artists to be a bit closer on one level — the old-school metric of album sales. “Paradise,” according to Nielsen SoundScan, sold 139,000 copies, while “Kiss” sold 137,000.

The remaining tallies for both albums incorporate track-equivalent albums, with sales of 10 individual tracks from a release adding up to a single album sale, and streaming-equivalent albums, in which 1,500 song streams from a release count as a single sale. There, the gulf is appreciably wider: The new record by Big Sean (right) moved 34,000 copies using these new metrics, to 9,000 by Kid Rock (left).

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Kid Rock.Rick Diamond/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

When Billboard announced the change to its album chart methodologies in December, the assumption was that pop artists would see a particular boost; streams and sales of popular singles would boost the number of equivalent units moved. The most recent Hot 100, which tracks the consumption of individual songs by sales, streaming, and radio airplay, would indicate that hip-hop also has an advantage — particularly when big names are involved. Big Sean’s five contributions to that chart are led by the E-40-assisted “I Don’t [expletive] With You,” which bubbles back up to No. 22 (from No. 24) after peaking on the chart at No. 11 a few weeks ago; West pops up on “All Your Fault,” one of three songs from “Paradise” debuting on the chart. The title track from “Kiss,” meanwhile, is the only one to reach Hot 100 status, debuting at No. 66.


Maura Johnston can be reached at maura@maura.com.