LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A surprise album by rappers Drake and Future soared to the top of the weekly United States Billboard 200 album chart on Monday, edging out new entries by Lana Del Rey and others.
What A Time To Be Alive, announced by Drake on Instagram on Sept 19 and released exclusively through Apple Music and iTunes the next day, sold 334,000 albums, 172,000 songs and was streamed more than 35 million times, totalling 375,000 units according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan.
It is the second No. 1 album of the year for both Canadian rapper Drake, who topped the Billboard 200 chart with If You're Reading This It's Too Late, in February, and Atlanta rapper Future, whose DS2 topped the chart in July.
Surprise album releases, while not common, have paid off for some of music's biggest stars.
Beyonce's self-titled digital album, which featured new songs and accompanying music videos, came as a complete surprise to both fans and collaborators when it was released without fanfare on Dec 13, 2013.
The album, released exclusively on iTunes, promptly topped the Billboard 200 chart with more than 1 million copies sold in its first week, setting a new iTunes record.
Last week's chart-topper, The Weeknd's Beauty Behind The Madness, dropped to No. 3.
The Billboard 200 chart tallies album sales, song sales (10 songs equal one album) and streaming activity (1,500 streams equal one album).
Other new entries on this week's Billboard 200 chart include pop singer Lana Del Rey's Honeymoon at No. 2, rapper Mac Miller's GO:OD AM at No. 4 and rocker David Gilmour's Rattle That Lock at No. 5.
Hard rockers Shinedown came in at No. 6 with Threat To Survival and Christian hip hop artist Andy Mineo's Uncomfortable debuted at No. 10.
Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams' cover album of Taylor Swift's 1989 entered the chart at No. 7 this week, just ahead of Swift's original version at No. 8.
On the Digital Songs chart, which measures online sales, The Weeknd's Hills ousted Justin Bieber's What Do You Mean? for the top spot, selling 110,000 digital singles.