Tyler, the Creator, Lana Del Rey, and Meek Mill are battling it out for the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 list this week. The most recent projections have all three artists' albums in the same ballpark, with the projected sales ranges for Tyler's Scum Fuck Flower Boy and Meek's Wins & Losses within 5,000 copies of each other. If (the excellent) Flower Boy ends up on top, the feat would give the Golf Wang founder his first No. 1 album ever.
On Thursday, Tyler called Tidal's streaming methods into question in a series of since-deleted tweets. Earlier this week, Tidal offered a free streaming option for Meek's Wins & Losses. "DAMN TIDAL GOT ALBUMS PLAYING BEFORE A PAYWALL WHICH MAKES ME THINK N****S CAN HAVE BOTS SPIKING UP PLAYS FOR BILLBOARD ON FRIDAY HMM," Tyler tweeted, later adding "IM PETTY I WANT THAT TOP SPOT HAHAHA I WANT IT SO BAD MAN [sic]."
In a statement released the same day, Billboard cleared up their stance on the impact of free streams on the final top 200 figures. The statement, Billboard staff said, was made in light of "misinformation" being posted online.
"Free streams... have counted towards the Billboard 200 since it changed to a consumption model in 2014 where the ranking is determined by blending album sales, track equivalent album units, and streaming equivalent album units," Billboard clarified, noting that nothing in that process had been changed for this week's tally.
Still, for some, the debate on the fairness of free streaming promotions is likely to continue. Billboard even acknowledged as much in their statement:
The debate in treating free streams differently than paid/subscription streams is a valid one, as is examining how each streaming provider allows access to its service.
In the meantime, let's at least acknowledge that the amount of top-tier new music that's been released in recent weeks is borderline overwhelming. Just enjoy the art.