Jay Z Performs at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
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JAY-Z Scores 14th No. 1 Album On Billboard 200 Chart With '4:44'

The superstar extends his own record.

JAY-Z collects his 14th No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as his latest release, 4:44, debuts atop the tally. According to Nielsen Music, in the week ending July 13, the set earned 262,000 equivalent album units -- a larger-than-initially-expected sum, and the fourth-largest week of 2017 for any album. Of its total, 174,000 units were in traditional album sales.

4:44’s No. 1 arrival extends JAY-Z’s record as the solo artist with the most No. 1 albums in the 61-year history of the Billboard 200 chart. He distances himself farther ahead of the two acts with the second-most leaders among soloists: Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand, who each have 11 chart-toppers. Among all acts, JAY-Z has the second-most leaders, behind only The Beatles, which have 19 No. 1s.

JAY-Z also furthers his own record as the artist with the most debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, as all 14 of his albums have bowed in the top slot. (Springsteen has the second-most No. 1 debuts, with eight.)

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new July 29-dated chart (where JAY-Z starts at No. 1) will be posted in full to Billboard’s websites on Tuesday, July 18.

4:44 was initially issued on June 30 (via S. Carter Enterprises/Roc Nation) for one week of streaming exclusivity through Tidal. However, Tidal did not report data for the album to Nielsen Music for the week ending July 6, so the album did not debut on the July 22-dated chart. (In addition, by July 2, the album was also offered as a free download -- sponsored by Sprint -- via the web site 444.tidal.com. The free downloads were ineligible to chart, per Billboard’s current pricing policy.)

Then, on July 7, the album became widely available to most streaming services (but not Spotify, as JAY-Z pulled his catalog from the service in April) and to retailers as both a download and CD (with three bonus tracks).

Overall, 4:44’s launch of 262,000 units grants the album the fourth-largest week of 2017, behind the debuts of Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. (603,000 units), Drake’s More Life (505,000) and Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) (451,000).

Of 4:44’s 174,000 sales in the week ending July 13, the set sold 131,000 as a download and 43,000 on CD.

Despite 4:44s absence from Spotify, the album still generated the fourth-biggest streaming debut of 2017. Of its total 262,000-unit start, 7,000 were in TEA units, while SEA units represented 82,000 units. The latter sum equals 122.4 million streams of the album’s songs. In terms of streaming debuts in 2017, it trails only Drake’s More Life (257,000 SEA units; 384.8 million song streams), Lamar’s DAMN. (227,000 SEA units; 340.6 million song streams) and Sheeran’s ÷ (90,000 SEA units; 134.6 million song streams).

JAY-Z’s previous album, Magna Carta…Holy Grail, debuted at No. 1 in 2013 with 528,000 copies sold in its first week (before the chart transitioned to a consumption-ranked tally in 2014). Like 4:44, Magna Carta was issued in a unique fashion: it was first released (on July 4, 2013) as a free download to certain Samsung phone and tablet users who had downloaded a JAY-Z-centric app. (One million copies were available for free to fans through the app.) It then became widely available to retailers on July 9.

Every one of JAY-Z’s solo studio albums have reached No. 1 since 1998’s Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life (which was also his first No. 1). His 14 chart-toppers also include three collaborative efforts: one each with R. Kelly (Unfinished Business), Linkin Park (MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups Presents: Collision Course) and Kanye West (Watch the Throne).

The rest of the new top 10 on the July 29-dated Billboard 200 chart will be revealed in a separate story posting later today (July 16).

This article was originally published on Billboard.com.

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Jay Z Is Allegedly In Talks To Sell Tidal

TIDAL could be shopping around for a new owner.

Square Inc., the mobile payment app led by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, might end up acquiring TIDAL, according to Bloomberg. Dorsey and Jay Z have reportedly discussed a possible sale, but it is unclear if the alleged negotiations will actually result in an acquisition.

The rumored sale may have something to do with why Jay put his discography back to Spotify for his  50th birthday last year.

Hov acquired TIDAL for $56 million from Norwegian company, Aspiro, in 2015. The subscription-based music streaming company has been touted as a better option for artists in that it offers higher royalties than competitors like Spotify and Apple Music.

The company has however been accused of not paying artists, and settled an $84 million class action lawsuit last year amid claims of “fraudulently” persuading customers to subscribe by claiming that Kanye West’s Life of Pablo album was an exclusive release.

Despite a star-studded 2015 launch event attended by West, Beyoncé, J. Cole, Usher, Rihanna, Madonna, Nicki Minaj and more, TIDAL has had a rocky few years — especially when it comes to corporate leadership. The company went through four CEO’s in two years, the most recent of which, Richard Sanders, was appointed to run TIDAL in 2017.

That year, Sprint purchased a 33% stake in TIDAL for $200 million.

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Ashanti And Keyshia Cole Sign On For Verzuz Battle

Season 2 of Verzuz is already off to a good start. Ashanti and Keyshia Cole are next in line for a Verzuz battle, it was confirmed on Friday (Dec. 4).

The R&B stars will go up against each other for a “celebration of women empowerment” next Saturday, Dec. 12. The “Legendary Ladies Night” will be streamed on IG Live and Apple Music.

Yeah, it’s official! The paperwork is IN 🚨🚨 It’s a legendary Ladies Night on Saturday, December 12th with @Ashanti and @KeyshiaCole.

Which Libra you got?!

Saturday, December 12th, 5PM PT / 8PM ET. Watch on our IG or in HD on @AppleMusic.

Drinks by @Ciroc Merch by @NTWRKLIVE pic.twitter.com/UCWJvaEl0y

— Verzuz (@verzuzonline) December 4, 2020

Both multi-platinum selling singers have impressive stats. Ashanti’s catalog of solo hits include “Foolish,” “Rock wit U,” “Rain On Me,” “Happy,” and “Baby.” On the collaborative tip, the Grammy winner joined Ja Rule on singles like, “What’s Love?” and “Always on Time.”

She was also featured on Lloyd’s debut single “Southside,” “Into You” by Fabolous, and “Body on Me” with Nelly. And she of course wrote songs for Jennifer Lopez and more.

Cole’s breakout single, “I Changed My Mind,” dropped in 2004 and her career took off from there. The Oakland native boasts a slew of classic R&B singles like “(I Just Want It) To Be Over,” “I Should Have Cheated,” “Let It Go,” “I Remember,” “Heaven Sent,” “Love,” and “Trust.” As a featured artist, Cole appeared on Sean Paul’s “(When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me,” Young Jeezy’s “Dreaming,” and Diddy’s 2006 single “Last Night,” to name a few.

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Casanova Wanted By FBI In Connection With Racketeering Case

Rapper Casanova is wanted by federal investigators in connection with a sweeping indictment charging 18 alleged members of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation Gang with various racketeering, murder, drugs, guns, and fraud offenses, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday (Dec. 1).

The FBI New York tweeted a photo of Casanova and encouraged anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact the bureau. “We are still looking for Caswell Senior, aka Casanova, in connection with this case.”

The 34-year-old rapper is named in the indictment which was unsealed in a White Plains federal court Tuesday. Casanova is the only one out of 18 defendants who has yet to be arrested, the indictment states.

He faces single cont of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“As alleged in the Indictment, members of Gorilla Stone committed terrible acts of violence, trafficked in narcotics, and even engaged in brazen fraud by exploiting benefits programs meant to provide assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said. “Because of that, communities across the Southern District – from Poughkeepsie to Peekskill to New York City – suffered.”

“Most shocking, as alleged in the indictment, a minor was murdered in furtherance of the gang’s activities,” continued Strauss. “Because of the extraordinary work of our law enforcement partners, the defendants now face federal charges for their crimes.”

The indictment outlines a string of crimes that took place between Jan. 2018 and Sept. 2020.

Alleged gang member Brandon “Stacks” Soto has been charged in connection with the murder of a 15-year-old victim in Poughkeepsie, New York, in September.

In July, Stephen “Chino” Hugh allegedly shot at rival gang members in New Rochelle to allegedly “maintain and increase his position” in the gang’s “racketeering enterprise.” A month earlier, suspects Naya “Baby”Austin, Dezon “Blakk” Washington, and Jordan “Flow” Ingram committed armed robbery of a rival drug dealer, the indictment alleges.

Austin and another suspect, Shanay “Easy” Outlaw, were also charged with filing fraudulent documents to receive COVID-19 related unemployment benefits

The indictment goes on to allege that Brinae “Luxury” Thornton shot a rival gang member in Brooklyn in 2018 in an attempt to “maintain and increase her position” in the gang. That year, another alleged gang member, Robert “Blakk Rob” Woods, supposedly slashed a victim in the face.

Also named in the indictment were Dwight “Dick Wolf” Reid, Christopher “Beagle” Erskine, Walter “Shells” Luster, Deshawn “Don” Thomas, Brandon “Untouchable Dot” Nieves, Ahmed “Ammo” Walker, Isaiah “Zay” Santos, and Robert “Trouble” Sligh, all of whom have been arrested and accused of being members of Gorilla Stone.

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