21 Savage Hits No. 1, With an Assist From Morgan Freeman

To land a No. 1 album, the music industry has a few tried-and-true tricks, like catchy radio singles and a meme-ready YouTube video. The latest chart-topping rap album, however, upped the ante with a Hollywood-style trailer narrated by no less of a pitchman than the actor Morgan Freeman.

“Savage Mode II,” the latest collaboration by 21 Savage, the London-born, Atlanta-based rapper, and the St. Louis producer Metro Boomin, was announced last month with an 80-second clip resembling a horror-movie promo. As special effects flicker through a haunted house, Freeman — whose voice-of-God baritone is heard on films like “The Shawshank Redemption” and Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” — intones: “To be in savage mode is to go hard, not allowing anything to stop or deter you from your mission.”

The 83-year-old Freeman — who reportedly recorded his parts at home, on an iPhone — is also heard in eight of the album’s 15 tracks, threading some kitschy gravitas from one song to the next.

“Savage Mode II” opened at No. 1 on Billboard’s latest chart with the equivalent of 171,000 sales in the United States, including 200 million streams and 22,000 copies sold as a complete package, according to Nielsen Music. It is both artists’ second time reaching the top spot on the chart.

Also this week, the K-pop girl group Blackpink opened at No. 2 with “The Album,” its first full-length LP, which had the equivalent of 110,000 sales, including 40 million streams and 81,000 copies moved as a full package.

“Savage Mode II” and “The Album” are the last two albums to gain a substantial chart benefit by bundling copies of the release with sales of merchandise like T-shirts, jewelry and smartphone cases. After criticism, Billboard once again changed its rules; effective last week, albums sold through such deals will no longer count toward the magazine’s charts.

The rapper YG opened at No. 4 with “My Life 4Hunnid,” and the R&B singer Bryson Tiller’s new “Anniversary” arrived at No. 5. “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon,” the posthumous album by the New York rapper Pop Smoke, is in third place in its 14th week out.

Machine Gun Kelly’s “Tickets to My Downfall,” last week’s No. 1 album, dropped to No. 6.

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