One of the best things about hip-hop in 2013 was how well the hip-hop projects performed commercially. With massive releases from Eminem, Drake, Jay-Z and Kanye West as well as highly anticipated projects from Mac Miller, J. Cole and A$AP Rocky, 2013 had some incredible opening weeks.
Let’s take a look at the 10 biggest first week album sales in hip-hop this year.
10. Watching Movies with the Sound Off
Released: June 14
Label: Rostrum Records, Universal
First Week Album Sales: 101,000
Mac Miller’s second studio album didn’t perform quite as well in its first week as his debut album, Blue Slide Park; but it was a much better project with more focused rapping from Mac.
Preceded by three singles – “S.D.S.,” “Watching Movies” and “Goosebumpz” – as well as a guest verse on the Ariana Grande’s top ten hit “The Way,” Watching Movies with the Sound Off moved 101,000 copies in its first week of sales.
Even though Mac Miller had the lowest first week sales of the June 14 releases, which also included J. Cole’s Born Sinner and Kanye West’s Yeezus, the album was a massive success for the Pittsburgh rapper and proved that he would be a consistent force in hip-hop.
Released: April 16
Label: Wicked Awesome, GOOD, Republic
First Week Album Sales: 139,000
As one of the most anticipated hip-hop albums of 2013, Kid Cudi’s third studio album suffered from a number of push backs which led to the rapper tweeting his frustrations with Universal Republic.
Fortunately the album was released in due time and thanks to a few well received singles (“Just What I Am,” “King Wizard,” “Immortal” and “Girls”), Indicud managed to sell 139,000 units in its first week, making it Kid Cudi’s highest-charting project.
8. Long. Live. ASAP
Released: January 15
Label: ASAP Worldwide, Polo Grounds, RCA
First Week Album Sales: 139,000
By the end of 2012, the hype for A$AP Rocky’s debut studio album was incredible. The A$AP ringleader had already caused some serious ripples in the hip-hop industry with his mixtape Live. Love. ASAP not to mention the $3 million record deal he signed with RCA Records and Polo Grounds Music.
So even though Long. Live. ASAP was pushed back from its original September date and leaked a whole month early, the album still debuted at number 1 on the charts, propelled by the hit single, “Fuckin’ Problems” and moving 139,000 copies in its first week.
7. The Gifted
Released: June 24
Label: Maybach Music, Atlantic
First Week Album Sales: 158,000
Wale may have copped a lot of flak from his fan base when he signed to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, but you can’t deny the move’s been great for his bank account. Ambition, Wale’s first release on MMG, sold 164,000 copies in its first week, giving the rapper one of the highest first week sales of 2011.
With the backing of the hit single, “Bad,” and the subsequent Rihanna-featured remix version as well as a star studded track listing which included the likes of Meek Mill, Juicy J, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz and more, The Gift continued Wale’s commercial streak, selling 158,000 units out the gate and cementing his position on top.
6. I Am Not a Human Being II
Released: March 22
Label: Young Money, Cash Money, Republic
First Week Album Sales: 217,000
I Am Not a Human Being II is proof once again that even when Lil Wayne scraps together a bunch of throwaway tracks and packages them into an album, his fans will still come flocking to buy it.
Unlike the massive commercial success of the previous album, Tha Carter IV, which sold close to a million units in its first week, I Am Not a Human Being II only managed to move a little over 200,000 copies.
Weezy can’t really complain though, the album went gold in a few months after its release and singles like “Love Me,” “Rich As Fuck” and “No Worries” dominated the charts and made him a staple on radio airwaves.
5. Born Sinner
Released: June 14
Label: Dreamville, Roc Nation, Columbia
First Week Album Sales: 297,000
J. Cole may not have had the biggest first week opener or best selling album of the year but it’s pretty safe to say that he had a pretty fucking good 2013. With his ballsy move, changing the album’s release date to coincide with Kanye’s Yeezus, Cole chose to go head-to-head with the competition.
Born Sinner ended up selling 297,000 units in its first week, about 30,000 copies short of Yeezus, and continued to perform well, reaching 500,000 copies in about 2 months.
What’s even more impressive is that unlike other top selling albums of the year, Born Sinner didn’t have many high-profile guest appearances or production, with Cole relying on his own beats and calling on the odd Kendrick Lamar and Miguel feature.
Released: June 14
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
First Week Album Sales: 327,000
Fuck conventional advertising methods. Kanye chose to market Yeezus in the most unique ways – first by tweeting the ambiguous date “June Eighteen” (which turned out to be the album release date), then by projecting his face and the first single “New Slaves” on buildings across the world, finally appearing on SNL to perform “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead.”
With no traditional album rollout or promotion, Kanye relied on the fans’ hunger for his music and while Yeezus had one of Kanye’s lowest first week sales numbers, it was still one of the top selling hip-hop albums of the year.
3. Magna Carta Holy Grail
Released: July 4
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Roc Nation, Universal
First Week Album Sales: 528,000
There’s all the hoopla about Jay-Z’s unprecedented partnership with Samsung and #newrules – making the RIAA recognise Magna Carta Holy Grail‘s million unit shipment and certifying the album platinum pretty much in the first week.
Realistically however, the figures were a little lower than that, although still very impressive – Magna Carta Holy Grail sold 528,000 units in its first week. With no singles leading up to its July 4th release date, Hov built up the buzz with an incredible album trailer which featured him working with Timbaland, Swizz and Pharrell in the studio as well as talking to Rick Rubin who, of course, is lying on a couch.
2. Nothing Was the Same
Released: September 20
Label: OVO Sound, Young Money, Cash Money, Republic
First Week Album Sales: 658,000
Drake’s incredible feature verse run in 2012, where he hopped on a number of hot singles and made them hotter – “Stay Schemin’,” “No Lie,” “Pop That,” “Amen,” “Fuckin’ Problems” – was leading up to this moment.
No other rapper in 2013 managed to dominate the conversation as consistently as Drake did – whether it was the searing “5AM in Toronto,” the “Versace” remix or the anthem “Started from the Bottom” – Drake had hip-hop on lock the whole year.
So was there any surprise that his third studio album, Nothing Was the Same, sold a massive 658,000 units in its first week? Or that the album had the highest first week sales for a hip-hop album since 2011’s Tha Carter IV? Or that it would go platinum in a few months? Not really.
1. The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Released: November 5
Label: Aftermath, Shady, Interscope
First Week Album Sales: 792,000
Eminem was and forever will be a phenomenon in the hip-hop world. After the chart smashing comeback of Recovery, which sold over 10 million units worldwide, Em disappeared for a while. Save for his 2011 collaboration project with Royce da 5’9″ – Hell: The Sequel – and popping up for a feature verse here and here, he was virtually ghost.
Then it started. Towards the end of 2012, we started to hear rumours of a new project. Once the title was announced earlier this year, it was a wrap. Eminem season was officially on. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 had singles for everybody – “Survival” for the Call of Duty players, “Bezerk” for the hip-hop heads, “The Monster” for the radio and “Rap God” for the rap nerds out there.
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 moved 792,000 units in its first week, making it Eminem’s seventh number 1 album, and certified platinum in about a month’s time.