Magna Carta Holy Grail

Outperforming the initial predictions of industry observers, Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” has roared onto the U.S. album chart at No. 1.

In its first week of physical release, the rap pasha’s new set shifted 528,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending July 14. Initial prognostications envisioned a bow in the 400,000-unit range.

It was the year’s second-largest debut to date, topped only by Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” which entered with 968,000 in March. (Hova and Timberlake kick off a month of joint tour dates in Toronto tonight.)

“Magna Carta Holy Grail” rode to market on a unique promotion, in which the album was released exclusively to 1 million consumers early this month via a phone app for Samsung Galaxy. (The SoundScan figures do not reflect units “sold” as part of that promotion.) That fed intense interest across the Web: The title enjoyed the biggest first week for an album in Spotify’s U.S. history and generated over 14 million domestic streams.

Coming in a very distant No. 2 after the hip-hop mega-star, R&B singer Ciara placed with her self-titled new Epic release, which reaped first-week sales of 59,000. Despite its comparatively slim numbers, album’s debut represented a big bounce back from the vocalist’s 2010 collection “Basic Instinct” which bowed and peaked at No. 44 behind sales of 37,000.

The frame’s only other top-10 arrival was Skylar Grey’s “Don’t Look Down” (Interscope), which moved in at No. 8 with 24,000 moved out of the box. Originally known as Holly Brook, the vocalist has garnered attention for duets with Dr. Dre and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Top-10 holdovers included J. Cole’s “Born Sinner” (No. 3, 40,000, down 32%), Florida Georgia Line’s “Here’s to the Good Times” (No. 4, 33,000, up 5%), Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” (No. 5, 33,000, off 8%), Kanye West’s “Yeezus” (No. 6, 29,000, down 26%), Wale’s “The Gifted” (No. 7, 28,000, off 44%), Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” (No. 9, 23,000, down 17%) and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “The Heist” (No. 10, 23,000, down 5%). The last two titles were separated by less than 500 units.

A new release by Sara Bareilles and the 24th installment of the “Kidz Bop” series are potential top-10 newcomers next week.

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