After a years-long string of mixtapes that paved the way for his induction into XXL’s 2020 Freshman Class, Baby Keem had a crossover moment in September, soaring to the top of Rolling Stone‘s Breakthrough 25 Chart after dropping his commercial smash of a debut album, The Melodic Blue.
With a feature from Travis Scott and two from Kendrick Lamar — who is also Keem’s cousin — The Melodic Blue was a coming out moment of sorts for the California-born, Las Vegas-bred rapper. When it arrived on September 10th, the 16-track project debuted at Number Five on the Rolling Stone Top 200 Albums Chart — quite the feat when you consider that his previous mixtape, Die For My Bitch, peaked at Number 164. Keem also reached a new career peak of Number 14 on the Artists 500 Chart. Before the lead-up and arrival of The Melodic Blue, Keem hadn’t even reached the top 200.
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All told, Baby Keem pulled in 71 million more on-demand audio streams in September than he did in August. The Rolling Stone Breakthrough 25 chart ranks the artists who are seeing the greatest gains each month in audio streams. It does not include passive listening, such as terrestrial radio or digital radio. Because the chart focuses on newer music, eligible artists must not have not reached the upper ranks of the charts before.
The week of September 1, 2021
Also making an impressive showing is Memphis rapper BIG30, at Number Two. He grew his streams by nearly 50 million in September after dropping his King of Killbranch mixtape, which also featured a slew of hip-hop heavyweights like Future, Quavo and Moneybagg Yo. King of Killbranch, BIG30’s debut, entered the RS 200 at Number 14, and helped him reach a new peak of Number 62 on the Artists 500.
Rising to Number Three is Glass Animals, whose slinky breakout single “Heat Waves” still isn’t done on the RS 100. The song, which entered the chart back in January, reached the top 10 in September, breaking the record for the longest climb to the Top 10, taking 35 weeks to get there. Rounding out the top five are two debuts: Portland rapper Yeat (Number Four), who followed up the viral success of his song “Sorry Bout That” with a new album, Up 2 Me; and Nigerian artist CKay (Number Five), whose viral TikTok hit ““Love Nwantinti” reached Number 22 on the RS 100.
Other notable entries on this month’s Breakthrough 25 Chart include Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems (Number Seven), who reached Number 11 on the RS 100 thanks to a feature on Wizkid’s “Essence”; Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Jhay Cortez (Number Eight), who recently reached made his RS 200 debut with his sophomore album, Timelezz; singer-songwriter Yebba, who was featured on Drake’s Certified Lover Boy and then promptly released her debut album, Dawn, on September 10th; and Canadian heavy metal band Spiritbox (Number 19), who made their RS 200 debut with Eternal Blue at Number 92.
See the full Breakthrough 25 Chart here.
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