Lil Uzi Vert and XXXTentacion ride streaming wave to mainstream

Lil Uzi Vert performs during the MTV Video Music Awards 2017 on Aug 27, 2017.
Lil Uzi Vert performs during the MTV Video Music Awards 2017 on Aug 27, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - A new generation of rappers with anarchic approaches to social media and free digital distribution on platforms like SoundCloud is riding the streaming wave into the mainstream.

On the Billboard album chart this week, two debuts from leading figures of that movement - Lil Uzi Vert, 23, and XXXTentacion, 19 - marked their commercial arrival by outpacing an array of more traditional releases.

Luv Is Rage 2, by the breakout hip-hop experimentalist Lil Uzi Vert, hit No. 1 in its first week, totalling 135,000 album equivalent units, with just 28,000 in traditional album sales and a load-bearing 151 million streams.

That was good enough for the third-largest streaming debut this year after Drake's More Life and Kendrick Lamar's Damn.

XXXTentacion, a controversial figure because of his repeated legal issues - he is awaiting trial on charges of beating a pregnant woman - came in at No. 2.

His 17, a left-field collection that mixes rap with depressive folk music, sold 18,000 copies in addition to its 100 million streams for a total of 87,000 units by the industry's formula, which combines album sales, streams and track downloads.

Under those two releases were albums by Queens Of The Stone Age and Fifth Harmony, which beat Luv Is Rage 2 and 17 in sales but faltered in streams.

Taylor Swift's Look What You Made Me Do, the lead single from her upcoming album, finished its first week with 81 million streams and 353,000 downloads.

It is aiming to unseat the Despacito remix, by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (featuring Justin Bieber), which has spent 16 consecutive weeks at No. 1.