While he only dropped his debut album in 2009, Drake has quickly ascended to the very top of the rap game. The OVO head honcho went from competing with the likes of Jay-Z and Kanye to sitting on top of the hip-hop industry in a matter of years.
Aside from his 2009 EP, every single one of Drake’s releases has been amongst the top 10 hip-hop first week openers – an incredible achievement for a relatively new artist, especially in this music climate.
From his 2009 EP, So Far Gone, to 2015’s surprise release If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Stop The Breaks takes a look at Drake’s first week album sales from best to worst.
1. Nothing Was the Same
Released: September 20, 2013
Label: OVO Sound, Young Money, Cash Money, Republic
First Week Album Sales: 658,000
For a brief moment there, it looked like Drake was going to have the biggest hip-hop first week album sales of 2013, but Eminem came through and did what he always does – crush the competition.
Still, it was an incredible achievement by Drizzy who, only in a span of 5 years, has risen to the top ranks of the rap game, beating out Jay-Z and Kanye once again. Was it really a surprise though?
The year before, Drake went on a features bodying tour, killing all the hottest rap singles – from “Stay Schemin’” to “No Lie” to “Pop That” to “Amen” to “Fuckin’ Problems” – and dominating the year without putting out a project.
Then 2013 came along and nothing changed. Drake had the rap game on lock with “Versace (Remix),” “Started from the Bottom,” “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and a bunch of other songs.
Nothing Was the Same sold 658,000 units in its first week, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 and has been certified double platinum by now. No one else doing it like Drizzy Drake.
2. Take Care
Released: November 15, 2011
Label: Young Money, Cash Money, Republic
First Week Album Sales: 631,000
If So Far Gone and Thank Me Later established Drake as a commercial force in hip-hop, his 2011 album was the one that cemented his status on top of the rap game.
More expansive and ambitious than his debut album, Take Care showcased Drake’s consistently incredible songwriting and unrivalled chemistry with Noah “40” Shebib.
With a promotional campaign that started early in 2011, Drake gained momentum with each single released. “Marvins Room,” “Headlines,” “Make Me Proud,” “The Motto,” “Take Care,” “HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right),” “Crew Love,” and “Lord Knows” all had chart success – an amazing achievement.
Take Care ended up moving 631,000 units in its first week of sales, making it the second biggest hip-hop opener of 2011. Drake was only behind Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV which debuted with over a million copies sold. It was actually a pretty good year for the Young Money crew with Lil Wayne and Drake taking the top 2 spots and beating out Jay-Z and Kanye’s Watch The Throne.
3. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Released: February 13, 2015
Label: OVO Sounds, Cash Money Records, Republic Records
First Week Album Sales: 495,000
Nothing Was the Same might still be his best selling album, but if you want evidence of Drake’s power in the music industry, look no further than his 2015 surprise release.
Consisting of leftover tracks and throwaways from recording sessions for his proper 2015 album, Views from the 6, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late still managed to detonate like an atom bomb upon release.
Not only did it manage to move 495,000 copies in its first week, Drake’s fourth time on top of the charts, the album became the first platinum seller of 2015. Even though compared to Drake’s other release, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late doesn’t hold up as much, OVO still had everybody chanting the anthem “Know Yourself” throughout the summer.
4. Thank Me Later
Released: June 15, 2010
Label: Young Money, Cash Money, Universal Motown
First Week Album Sales: 447,000
Drake’s 2010 album might have been one of the most hyped debuts since 50’s arrival in 2003. After signing to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment and storming the rap industry with his genre-blending mixtape, So Far Gone, the Toronto rapper was in a position to dominate hip-hop.
With super-producers like Kanye West, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland signing on to the projects as well as guest appearances from Jay-Z, T.I., Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne, Drake had all the right people in his corner to make Thank Me Later a success.
It definitely worked. Every one of the album’s 4 singles – “Fancy,” “Miss Me,” “Find Your Love” and “Over” – had success on the charts, especially the Kanye-assisted “Find Your Love” which peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Thank Me Later moved an impressive 447,000 copies in its first week of sales – the third biggest hip-hop opener of 2010. Drake trailed behind only Eminem and Kanye, but managed to eclipse sales numbers of Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, T.I. and Ludacris.
5. So Far Gone
Released: September 15, 2009
Label: Young Money, Cash Money, Universal Motown
First Week Album Sales: 73,000
It all starts right here. As Drake’s third mixtape, So Far Gone, was the launching pad that catapulted him into the hip-hop A-list where he’s now competing with the likes of veterans like Jay-Z and Eminem.
While rappers like 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and The Diplomats had revolutionised the mixtape game before him, Drizzy took it to whole another level, working with his musical partner, Noah “40” Shebib, to make So Far Gone sound like a fully-produced album.
What other mixtape has spawned chart-topping singles? “Successful” peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 while “Best I Ever Had” peaked at number 2 as well as snagged a couple Grammy nominations for Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song.
Shit was so hot they packaged it up as an EP for retail which managed to debut at number 6 on the Billboard 200 chart, moving 73,000 copies. Less than a year later, the EP was certified gold after moving over half a million units.
More in the Rapper First Week Album Sales series:
- Dead Presidents: Ranking Jay-Z First Week Album Sales
- I Get Money: Ranking 50 Cent First Week Album Sales
- Can’t Tell Me Nothing: Ranking Kanye West First Week Album Sales
- Street Dreams: Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales
- Rock Bottom: Ranking Eminem First Week Album Sales
- Trap Or Die: Ranking Young Jeezy First Week Album Sales
- Hate It Or Love It: Ranking The Game First Week Album Sales
- Maybach Music: Ranking Rick Ross First Week Album Sales
- Sky’s the Limit: Ranking The Notorious B.I.G. First Week Album Sales
- Stop Being Greedy: Ranking DMX First Week Album Sales
- Got Money: Ranking Lil Wayne First Week Album Sales