CSPC: Kendrick Lamar Popularity Analysis

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Kendrick Lamar - Øyafestivalen 2013


So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Kendrick Lamar achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!

In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles from Good Kid, M.A.A.D City released in digital format sold the equivalent of 1,299,000 albums – 8,660,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.

As a reminder:

  • Studio Album: sales of the original album
  • Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
  • Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
  • Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
  • Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/11750 for Video stream)

Lamar is no Eminem. His albums have never been able to deeply cross-over to different kind of audiences. Still, with 3 albums averaging more than 4 million equivalent album sales his chart performances have been incredible.

His major debut Good Kid, M.A.A.D City remains his top selling album at more than 5,3 million. To Pimp A Butterfly sold a very respectable 2,9 million but the drop opened the door to a possible collapse with his third album. He didn’t flop. Quite the opposite. Damn. proved to be insanely successful, now running at 4,4 million while still featuring inside the Billboard Top 10 ranking. The win of 5 trophies at the Grammy Ceremony will no doubt fuel this tally even more.

All three albums continue to be streamed week after week with their LPs versions purchased more than ever. It is only a matter of time before these records break 6, 3 and 5 million respectively. In the meantime, Lamar is also now powerful enough to gain more than half a million sales from a random mixtape, while continuing to enlarge his discography thanks to famous features.

All told, the US rap genius is now over 20,38 million equivalent album sales.

The following pages list his most successful songs. Do not forget to check our amazing cross-artists lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector which includes the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far to better gauge his position in the history of the music industry.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: IFPI, Spotify, YouTube, Metacritic, Besteveralbums, Chartmasters.org.

51 thoughts on “CSPC: Kendrick Lamar Popularity Analysis”

    1. Hi Dan!

      Unlike the likes Eminem, Lamar doesn’t do cross-over Rap/Pop songs. He songs are pure US Rap music, he sings about issues of young Black Americans and Damn is an anti-Trump record. The fact that most of his sales come from the US is fairly natural!

      In the other hand, selling most of your units in the US when you are a British Rock band is way less natural for sure 😉

      The next act coming is also a British singer that made it big in the US: Elton John!

  1. He is doing well but it’s safe to say only in the USA. He doesn’t really have a worldwide hit song. And it actually feels like the Grammys body is just favoring him.

  2. HUMBLE. disagrees…

    Was kind of looking forward to seeing Kendrick’s results given how well he performs on streaming.

    Good luck on Elton!

  3. I’d really like to see CSPS for the Jethro Tull, some day. All I know, their best selling album the Aqualung is sold more than 7m units. And they are totalling more than 60 million albums.

      1. Hi Daydreamer!

        Don’t place your hopes too high – to be honest his results are lower than I though they would be. All figures are now in, I only need to cross-check everything and write the article so it should be out tomorrow!

        In the meantime estimates of both Avril Lavigne and Justin Timberlake have been almost completed too so expect a busy period here during the upcoming days 😉

      1. As MJD ever quote in UKMiX“Sales-wize, Madonna is the best selling female followed by Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, but success-wize Barbra has been bigger than the last two, and maybe even bigger than Madonna.”

          1. I talk about measureing success while taking the consideration of market size then and their peers’s sales.
            MJD’s whole post (replyed to some Madge’s fan question about Barbra’s longevity and success):
            Actualy Barbra Streisand was a top 5 seller of the 60’s, the 70’s and the 80’s. If the 90’s almost all her records ended as multi-million selling records, she was hugely successful from 1963 to 1999, 37 calendar years.

            Sales-wize, Madonna is the best selling female followed by Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, but success-wize Barbra has been bigger than the last two, and maybe even bigger than Madonna. Her success was insane during the 60’s, but she sold barely 10-15 million albums back then only due to the awful market. She was extremely successful in late 70’s/early 80’s too, she sold 40-50 million albums on both decades. With the same success in 80-00 rather than in 60-80, she may have been very likely to strongly challenge Madonna.
            She also have the biggest non-soundtrack hit ever for a female.
            Now she doesn’t care much about selling records, but she still sell even over 1m of her new releases and is up to 20 million Soundscan sales, obviously not bad.

            Of course Madonna is much bigger out of the US, but so is Barbra in the US. It would have been interesting to know their sales if both got their heydays at the same time, with the market being similar.

          2. He wrote the post in Jan, 2009, before Barbra’s last successful come back, since then, Barbra has release three consecutive US/UK No.1 album, added 3 top10 compliation album, beating Madonna, Mariah, with Jazz, Britney, Frank Ocean’s same week new releases, even threate Gaga and Tony album’s first week while her one-week earlier album. In 2014, She become the only act score no 1 in 7 decades! And the only female artist who came before 2000 can score a US/UK/CA/AUS no1 record plus million sales, exclude Beyonce. And the best seller (Partners) among these ladies in 10s. (MDNA sold less)

  4. Can’t wait to see Elton John! I’m really interested to see if he comes above Queen, Pink Floyd and Madonna? 😜

    1. I don’t believe Elton comes above Queen, Pink Floyd, Madonna… Too many of his albums are
      relatively poorly sold (in the 90’s and 00’s..). But we’ll see it all soon..

      1. But he was a monster seller during 70s, ten consenive deubt no.1 album, MJD credite his album sales in 178,700,000 in 2011, and he sold many singles includind a 30 milion record

        1. Hi QueenBarbra!

          He has “only” 7 US / UK #1 albums, including 2 debuts at the top in the US. Plus, his sales during the 70s outside of English-speaking countries were chaotic. Most of his albums weren’t even charting in continental Europe, his sales in Japan are nothing huge, same in Latin America. Expect his sales to be easily down from my former estimates since calculations give much lower figures for early 70s in various markets while it is known that GYBR apart, his studio albums are truly low catalog sellers.

          Last but not least, 1997 sales of Candle in the Wind will be excluded. More on that inside the article!

          1. He has seven consecutive No. 1 US albums, and 58 Billboard Top 40 singles, 27 Top 10, four No. 2 and nine No. 1. For 31 consecutive years (1970–2000) he had at least one song in the Billboard Hot 100.

          2. I know he had 7 no1 in 70s, I wrote wrong. But it cant be discribed as “only”, they all during the six years and consecutive . Why CITW be exclude?!

          3. Hi QueenBarbra!

            The “only” was between quotes because it is obviously huge already, only said “only” in comparison to the 10 claim 😉

            The huge part of CITW buyers did so to give money for Diana’s foundation, its figures are nonsense in terms of music industry. It doesn’t represent the success of a recording at all. I’ll explain it more in details inside the article.

          4. So does holiday-songs and soundtrack-single? Buyer may for holiday gift and film/TV series, if holiday goes, film/TV off, the sales decrease quikly and down much in charts.

  5. MJD, There is something I don’t understand about your choice of artists to study. Why do you plan to write articles about Avril and Justin while Jennifer Lopez and Kelly Clarkson have had many more votes on the thread Request your artist ? I mean I don’t mind, as far as i’m concerned which one comes first since I voted for neither of thé four. I just want to understand.

    1. Hi Rell!

      Elements of choice can be summarized with 4 categories:
      1) Requests
      2) Current news
      3) Impact of the artist / its records
      4) Time available for me / needed to work on it

      I knew I had to work on a female artist after Elton since the last one came more than 2 months ago. So I looked at females requested. I excluded Nicky / Barbra because they are very long to study, which doesn’t fit well after already taking several days on Elton. I excluded Ayumi because I still have no valid enough solution to work out on Streaming figures for Japanese acts. I excluded updates because in terms of impact, I prefer a new artist than updates of acts that haven’t seen their overall figures change that much since their article. Remaining were JLo, Kelly Clarkson and Avril. The latter has less requests but she happens to be more relevant since Let Go has a shot to be close to 20 million overall, plus she is very easy to do since she has both a short album discography and a short DLs / streams discography (Nicki’s features require as many time as Elton’s albums). For the same reason when I’ll have the same context (little time to work on a requested female) I’ll do Kelly before JLo since Breakaway has been bigger than anything released by Jennifer Lopez!

      1. So Barbra’s analysis still need long time wait. But she is now the biggest female left, and there’s little figure for her record sales especially singles sales and fake claim across the internet.And she sold more than other ladies who came before 2000 exclude Beyonce since 2009

        1. Hi Lavingner,

          MJD probably meant 20m in equivalent album sales or close to that. Let Go’s album sales were widely reported at 16m by various sources, which often inflates album sales. Adding DL and streams, 20m should be the closest estimate to Let Go’s success.

          1. Yes, I agree with you. But I think that sold 17 M worldwide. The album sold around 5 m in Europe and it was very big un Asia (It sold 1.8 M only in Japan).

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