After three live-streamed stadium listening parties and 100 lifetimes’ worth of drama, Kanye West’s long-awaited new album Donda came out on Sunday. (I hesitate to say West released Donda, because within hours he was claiming on Instagram that Universal released it without his approval.) If West’s antics dissuaded any fans from listening to Donda — and let’s be honest, they never do — it’s not reflected in the first-week projections for the album, which is cruising for a No. 1 debut and potentially the biggest opening week of the year.
As of Monday, Donda is already pacing to move 300,000 album-equivalent units or more in its opening week, HITS Daily Double reports. That would give West the biggest bow of 2021, a title currently held by Olivia Rodrigo, whose debut album Sour opened with 295,000 equivalent units. Donda also has a shot at scoring the biggest first-week streaming total of the year, eclipsing J. Cole’s The Off-Season (308 million).
The projections for Donda are subject to change, perhaps daily, due to both the chaotic nature of a Kanye album rollout and its Sunday release, rather than the usual Friday, which marks a new tracking week on the Billboard 200. As HITS Daily Double notes, Sundays are typically the lowest streaming day of the week, so it’s difficult to extrapolate Donda’s first-day streams into a (truncated) opening week.
Regardless of what day it dropped, however, Donda is off to a stellar start on streaming services. West’s new album occupied the U.S. Spotify chart’s Top 10 yesterday, with frontrunner “Jail” peaking atop the list with 4.277 million stateside streams. “Jail” also debuted at No. 2 on the global Spotify chart with 8.743 million streams, falling slightly short of the reigning champion, the Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s “Stay” (9.129 million).
West earned the biggest single-day Spotify streaming total for any artist in 2021, and Donda earned the second-biggest album debut in global Spotify history with 95.1 million streams, landing between Drake’s Scorpion (132 million) and Taylor Swift’s Folklore (80.6 million), Chart Data reports. It’s worth noting that Donda clocks in at a mammoth one hour and 48 minutes, spread across 27 songs, making it an optimal streaming album.
It’s also worth noting that Drake, who was best-streaming artist of 2021 at midyear, confirmed this morning via Instagram that he will release his new album, Certified Lover Boy, this Friday. Social media users have speculated that West dropped Donda early in order to avoid a head-to-head chart battle with Drake, though West’s claim that Universal released the album without his approval contradicts that notion.
Of course, as Kanye fans know all too well, it’s often impossible to determine the motivation behind any of the enigmatic artist’s decisions — be it replacing Kid Cudi’s verse on Donda track “Remote Control” with the “globglogabgalab” meme or featuring accused sexual abuser Marilyn Manson and homophobic rapper DaBaby on an album that extols Jesus Christ and is dedicated to his late mother.
What is known is that when Donda inevitably bows atop the Billboard 200, it will grant West his 10th consecutive No. 1 debut, tying him with Eminem for the most among all artists. It’s a streak dating back to his 2005 sophomore album, Late Registration. (His debut album, The College Dropout, debuted and peaked at No. 2 a year earlier.) For better or worse, West remains a master of generating controversy and channeling it into album sales — and even with Donda available for public consumption, the drama surrounding the album shows no signs of abating.