Billboard moments

Billboard moments

Kartel and Buju: a Billboard chart history

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, July 12, 2020

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JUNE 26 was an important day in local music history as it marked the release of albums by two Jamaican dancehall music heavyweights, Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel.

Buju Banton dropped Upside Down, his first album since being released from incarceration a year ago, while it was Of Dons and Divas for Vybz Kartel who remains in prison following a murder conviction in 2014.

Many waited with bated breath to see how these two sets would do on the Billboard charts, one of the main indicators of music sales success globally.

Buju Banton made it to number two on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart (which combines streaming and sales). Over on the Current Reggae Albums chart (which is a sales-driven tally and available via subscription to Nielsen Music/MRC Data), Banton debuted at number one. Vybz Kartel entered at number six on the Billboard Reggae Album chart. His album also entered the Top Current Album Sales chart at 80.

Both acts have had a long and varied history on the Billboard chart, dating back from 1994 when Buju first tasted Billboard success.

Voice of Jamaica was the Gargamel's first entry, debuting at number six on February 5, 1994 which coincided with the first week the Reggae Albums Chart was created by the popular music magazine. The album earlier debuted on the Billboard 200 chart dated August 21, 1993, with 8,000 sold in its first week.

His popular work 'Til Shiloh made its debut at number three on August 5, 1995 with 8,000 sold in the first week. The album peaked at number two on August 12, 1995.

Inna Heights entered the charts at number five on December 13, 1997 after 1,000 copies sold in its first week. The set peaked at number one on December 20, 1997, selling 4,000 copies that week. It would go on to take the number one position for eight weeks.

Buju Banton's Unchained Spirit entered the chart at number two, its peak position on September 9, 2000. That album sold 9,000 copies in its first week. On May 19, 2001 his Ultimate Collection entered the chart with 1000 copies being taken by fans in that initial week on the market. It was then time for The Best of Buju Banton also sold 1000 copies in its first week, back in June 2002. It entered the chart at number 11 but peaked at number eight a week later. Friends for Life was next, less than a year later. It reached number three on March 29, 2003 by selling 5,000 in its first week. Toppa Di Top & Dirty Rhythms debuted and peaked at number seven on May 13, 2006 — 1,000 sold in the first week. Too Bad made it onto the charts on September 30, 2006 , selling 2,000 copies that week.

One thousand copies seem to be a popular target for Buju Banton's albums in their first week. Rasta Got Soul, and his Grammy-winning Before The Dawn both sold that number of copies in their debut week in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Vybz Kartel also has history on Billboard's Reggae Albums chart.

He first stepped onto the chart in 2011 with Kingston Story, which made its debut and peaked at number seven on July 9. It sold 1,000 copies in the first week; this was a digital-only album. Kingston Story, a different edition of the album, premiered on this chart at number 13 on September 22, 2012.

Vybz Kartel Roots & Culture: The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto made it onto the chart at number six on July 27, 2013, followed by Kartel Forever: Trilogy, which peaked at number 11 after entering the chart on June 21, 2014. Less than 1,000 copies were sold in that first week. Reggae Love Songs & Other Things also entered the chart on that day, peaking at number seven.

Nine months later Viking (Vybz Is King) was born. This set peaked at number threee after entering the chart on March 28, 2015 and selling less than 1,000 copies. On July 2, 2016 it was time for King of the Dancehall, which sold 2,000 copies in its debut week and peaked at number two on the chart.

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