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Rapper 21 Savage tops Billboard album chart in debut, thanks to Morgan Freeman’s help

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Rapper 21 Savage raked in a chart-topping debut for his second album, “King Khalid,” which topped the Billboard 200 with 184,000 copies sold in its first week, according to figures from Nielsen Music.

The rapper bested the album debut of New Orleans rapper Big Freedia’s “Rainbow Kingdom,” which bowed at No. 2, selling 37,000 copies.

Savage recorded his win as a much-tweeted-about moment, thanks to an assist from Morgan Freeman, in one of the most-watched promotional spots from a hip-hop artist since Drake. The rapper’s first album, “Issa Album,” peaked at No. 32 in 2017 and featured collaborations with everyone from Childish Gambino to Migos and Drake.

He released his new album on Oct. 5, four days before the Oct. 6 premiere of his new single, “Banned from America,” a collaboration with Lil Pump, Savage Bop and Cardi B. The song has not reached No. 1 on the charts, but it peaked at No. 2 on Spotify’s Global Top 50 Tracks, a significant accomplishment for a rap song. The success of the album has given Savage a boost on his new album’s success. “Issa Album” also made the top of Billboard’s Rap Albums chart.

The momentum behind Savage’s latest album continues a year of strong debuts from rappers, which produced a notable theme in ad campaigns for, among others, Spotify, Under Armour and Pepsi.

Because the Nielsen Music database was not available on Friday, figures for Savage’s second album’s sales are not available, and Billboard is expected to release its full sales for the week later on Saturday.

Freeman did appear in a publicized and highly praised commercial for the music streaming service’s mini-album “The Stream,” narrated by the actor’s daughter and now wife, Morgana, who is 23 years his junior.

“Music, music, music. You all make it so creative. You don’t even realize it,” Freeman says in the spot.

“Music is so universal, so we need to keep talking about it,” he says. “Music equals peace, love, unity and musical vibrations that can last a lifetime.”

The commercial began airing Aug. 20, which was the same day Savage was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for being in the country illegally. In the days since, Savage, who’s been released, has addressed his experience in interviews, in letters to supporters and in the documentary “King Khalid,” which was shown on Spike TV.

In the 30-minute television premiere, 20 of his own lyrics — from one-liners to a full verse — are displayed against images of him speaking. The rapper said it was important for him to reflect “on the little things I’ve learned.”

“I wanted to reflect on what I’ve learned and been through,” Savage said, according to a DVD version of the film. “And also showing different perspectives on what’s really going on.”

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