Kanye West’s long-awaited new album Donda was released on Sunday, following three live-streamed stadium listening parties and a lifetime’s worth of drama. (I hesitate to say West released Donda because he claimed on Instagram just hours afterwards that Universal had released it without his permission.) 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 album’s first-week forecasts, which have it on track for a No. 1 debut and possibly the year’s largest opening week.
According to HITS Daily Double, Donda is on track to sell 300,000 album-equivalent copies or more in its first week. That would make West the biggest debut of 2021, surpassing Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album Sour, which debuted with 295,000 equivalent units. Donda also has a chance to beat J. Cole’s The Off-Season for the year’s highest first-week streaming total (308 million).
Due to both the frenetic nature of a Kanye album rollout and its release on Sunday, rather of the normal Friday, which marks a new tracking week on the Billboard 200, projections for Donda are subject to alter, maybe daily. Because Sundays are traditionally the lowest streaming day of the week, extrapolating Donda’s first-day streams into a (truncated) opening week is tricky. Donda is off to a great start on streaming services, regardless of when it was released. West’s new album topped the U.S. Spotify chart yesterday, with the lead single “Jail” peaking at number one with 4.277 million streams. With 8.743 million listens, “Jail” debuted at No. 2 on the global Spotify chart, falling just short of the reigning winner, Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s “Stay” (9.129 million).
According to Chart Data, West has the highest single-day Spotify streaming total of any artist in 2021, and Donda has the second-largest album debut in worldwide Spotify history, with 95.1 million streams, trailing only Drake’s Scorpion (132 million) and Taylor Swift’s Folklore (80.6 million). It’s worth mentioning that Donda is a long album, clocking in at one hour and 48 minutes and 27 songs, making it ideal for streaming.
It’s also worth mentioning that Drake, who was the best-streaming artist of 2021 at the halfway point, announced on Instagram this morning that his new album, Certified Lover Boy, will be released on Friday. Users on social media theorised that West dropped Donda early to avoid a chart battle with Drake, but West’s assertion that Universal published the album without his permission refutes this theory.
Of course, as Kanye fans are well aware, determining the motivation behind any of the enigmatic artist’s decisions can be difficult, whether it’s replacing Kid Cudi’s verse on Donda’s “Remote Control” with the “globglogabgalab” meme or including 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 Donda will give West his 10th consecutive No. 1 debut, tying him with Eminem for the most among all artists. It’s a run that dates back to his sophomore album, Late Registration, from 2005. (His debut album, The College Dropout, debuted at No. 2 a year prior and peaked at No. 2.) West is a master at generating controversy and turning it into record sales, for better or worse, and the drama surrounding Donda shows no signs of abating even now that the album is ready for public consumption.