First of all, it’s worth noting that Diddy’s Press Play debuted atop this week’s Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart, having sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 170,000 copies. This was about 70,000 copies more than new albums by Evanescence and JoJo. So it’s the number one album in the country, at least for a few more days.
That said, it’s also worth noting that a) this was Diddy’s worst first week sales evar, and b) it really doesn’t take a whole lot to top Billboard’s albums chart these days. Earlier this year, Johnny Cash (a legendary country singer) hit number one having only sold something like 80,000 copies. No number one album had sold less copies since the advent of Soundscan 15 years ago.
Also, and perhaps more importantly, if Press Play experiences the kind of second week fade that’s typical for rap albums these days, it’ll be down below 100,000 copies sold by next week, and then it’ll be down the charts in no time. Barring some unforseen hit single, it probably won’t hit the platinum mark. Which is too bad. It really is a pretty good album.
Granted, plenty of rap albums have failed miserably in 2006. TI’s King is the year’s top-selling rap album so far and it only went 1x platinum. Plenty of other rap albums released this year haven’t done nearly as well. Rhymefest, anyone? The Roots? And so on and so forth. But this is, after all, Diddy. I mean, the guy is kind of a big deal.
If Press Play ultimately fails to hit its mark, it won’t be for a lack of publicity. In the press run-up to the album’s release, Diddy did everything short of adopting some poor African baby with flies on its face a la Madonna and Angelina Jolie. I don’t know that he could’ve actually been in the papers more often unless he was actually involved in a shooting.
Indeed if the lackluster first week sales for Press Play prove anything, it’s that hip-hop’s current commercial downswing has to do with more than just a lack of promotion. I’ve sensed that this was true all year long, but it was always difficult to prove because a lot of these albums really weren’t promoted particularly well. But Diddy’s was, and look what it did for him.
Fortunately for Diddy, it’s pretty obvious that rap music is just something he does to keep his name hot while he focuses on selling clothes, where all the real money is. You have to wonder though if he would’ve spent nearly as much money as he did if he knew only so many people would actually run out and cop Press Play.