18 Karat Reggae takes a look behind the hype to decipher what having a number one album or song on the Reggae Billboard Charts really means.
The Billboard Reggae Album/Singles chart, is simply an indication of an album’s performance sales-wise, for the week as monitored by Nielsen Soundscan.
Comparing the Billboard Reggae Album/Singles Chart against the Billboard Album chart or the Billboard Hot 100, which is normally dominated by pop, Hip Hop and or R&B albums/songs, the the paltry unit sales recorded, is the main reason more reggae songs or albums are not featured on these charts.
Current reggae songs that have managed to break through the Billboard Reggae chart this year are Cheerleader by Omi and I Need Your Love by Shaggy featuring Mohombi.
Patricia Meschino, Billboard writer, gave some of the sales figures as recorded by artistes who made it to the number one spot on the Reggae Album chart and the numbers are astonishing.
In April, Morgan Heritage’s Strictly Roots debuted at number one with only 1,223 units sold.
“The week ending 4/19/15 the American jam band, Government Mule, claimed the number one and number two slots with, Dub Side of the Mule-Deluxe, and Dub Side of the Mule (each featuring Toots Hibbert) moving 921 and 536 units, respectively.”
Looking at sales figures for 2014, the stats revealed that the biggest number one debut week sales on the Reggae Album chart was by a non Jamaican group out of California – Rebelution’s Count Me In (Easy Star Records). The disc, which was released on June 10, moved 17,201 copies and entered several Billboard tallies including the Top 200, appearing at number.14, their second consecutive top 15 debut there, and third successive release to debut at the top of the Reggae Album chart.
Another group that performed well on the chart for 2014 was DC/Virginia based band SOJA with, Amid The Noise and Haste (ATO Records), which moved 12,199 copies in its debut week ending August 17, 2014, which landed them at number 20 on the Top 200.
Since debuting at number one last year, albums by Rebelution and SOJA have consistently been in the top 10 Reggae Album chart with Rebelution at number six and SOJA at number seven for the week ending April 26, 2015, with total sales of 44,876 and 28,428, respectively.
One interesting fact that Meschino pointed out, “There aren’t any Jamaican acts whose numbers come close, although Ziggy Marley’s Fly Rasta, released in April 2014, has sold a total of 18,745 copies to date.”
Meschino indicated that Chronixx’s Dread and Terrible EP, moved 5,000 units in one week in 2014, following his appearance on the Jimmy Fallon show (NBC TV) and his performance at a free concert in New York City’s Central Park. Dread and Terrible, currently sits at number 10 with sales total of 8,694, a significant achievement for an independent artiste based in Jamaica.
“To put all of these figures in greater context” Meschino said, “six albums tied for the number 50 spot on the Reggae Album chart, each moving just 11 copies for the week ending 4/26/15.”
She pointed out that although reggae has never sold as many albums as other genres and while the overall sales numbers are very small, “it is still an achievement to top the chart, considering how many titles don’t even make it there.”