For 10 days in January, rapper J. Cole hosted a marathon recording session in Atlanta, enlisting dozens of artists from his Dreamville label and beyond to collaborate freely.
The result, some six months later, is a No. 1 album.
“Revenge of the Dreamers III” (Dreamville/Interscope) — anchored by Cole and his signees, including Bas, Earthgang, Ari Lennox, J.I.D. and more, plus 25 other rappers and singers — tops the Billboard 200 this week, with 115,000 album equivalent units, factoring in sales, streams and song downloads.
The compilation, the third in a series that began in 2014, was carried to No. 1 in large part by its 121 million streams; the 18-track release also totaled 23,000 in traditional sales.
With J. Cole becoming something of a hip-hop elder statesman — not to mention a commercial juggernaut — in recent years, the third “Dreamers” entry easily bested its predecessors: “Revenge of the Dreamers II,” from 2015, peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard chart, while the first mixtape did not place at all, according to Billboard.
Cole grew up in Fayetteville and now lives in Raleigh. In April, Cole and his Dreamville label mates performed at a daylong Dreamville Festival at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh.
At No. 2 this week is one of the year’s most consistent albums, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” by Billie Eilish, which earned another 50,000 units, including 53 million streams.
No. 3 is last week’s No. 1, “Indigo” by Chris Brown, down 54% to just under 50,000 units in its second week, while Lil Nas X is No. 4 with his “7” EP. Rapper Machine Gun Kelly debuts at No. 5 with “Hotel Diablo,” which totaled 39,000 units, including 28 million streams and 16,000 in sales.
On the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, Lil Nas X’s meme-driven hit “Old Town Road” remained No. 1 for a 15th week, just one behind the record held by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” and “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber.
In a bit of industry gamesmanship, this summer’s longtime No. 2 song, “Bad Guy” by Eilish, made a push for the top spot on next week’s chart with the release Friday of a remix featuring Bieber. (A song’s Billboard chart position factors in streams, sales and radio play for all of its official versions.) Lil Nas X countered with his own additional fresh release, adding rapper Young Thug and Mason Ramsey, better known as the Walmart yodeling kid, to the existing remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.