Bob Dylan makes chart history with ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’

By Ben Sisario

Most weeks, the top of the Billboard album chart is a story of hip-hop, more hip-hop and maybe a pop star. This week it also features Bob Dylan, the 79-year-old songwriter and cultural chameleon who four years ago won the Nobel Prize in literature.

While the chart’s No. 1 spot is held this week by rapper Lil Baby’s “My Turn” for a third time in a row — and a fourth overall — Dylan opens at No. 2 with “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” his 39th studio album, which is his 23rd time in the Top 10.

“Rough and Rowdy Ways,” Dylan’s first album of new songs in eight years — his last three have been collections of traditional pop standards — sold 51,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. Factoring in its 3 million streams, the LP was credited with the equivalent of 53,000 sales, according to the formula that Nielsen and Billboard now use to reconcile the different ways that fans consume music.

Dylan’s album has been hailed by critics as one of his best, and most beguiling, in years. “Murder Most Foul,” the 17-minute final track, is a rhapsodic evocation of American history in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963; by one count, it alludes to at least 74 other songs.

According to Billboard, Dylan is the first artist to reach the Top 40 with a new album in each decade from the 1960s to the 2020s. (He may face competition from Barbra Streisand, who has logged a No. 1 in each decade from the ’60s through the 2010s, and has not released an album in two years.)

Lil Baby’s “My Turn” held the top spot this week with the equivalent of 70,000 sales, including 107 million streams. Also this week, New York rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie jumped 77 spots to No. 3, after releasing an expanded version of his album “Hoodie 2.0,” which had arrived on the chart in February, at No. 2.

DaBaby’s “Blame It on Baby” is in fourth place, and Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding” is No. 5. R&B singer Teyana Taylor opened at No. 8 with “The Album.”

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