Next week could be the biggest for new rap albums in two-and-a-half years.
June 18 sees the release of three hip-hop sets that are all on course for sizable sales debuts: Kanye West's "Yeezus," J. Cole's "Born Sinner" and Mac Miller's "Watching Movies With the Sound Off."
According to early sales forecasts from industry sources, "Yeezus" might sell 500,000 copies in its first week. Behind him will likely be "Born Sinner" with perhaps 150,000 to 200,000. "Watching Movies With the Sound Off" could sell as much as 100,000.
If West and Cole both sell over 100,000 -- which seems a sure thing -- it will mark the first time two rap albums have debuted with more than 100,000 in the same week since November of 2010. That Thanksgiving, West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" started with 496,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" bowed with 375,000. The two albums started at Nos. 1 and 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, respectively.
With Miller also in the June 18 mix, things get even more interesting. While a 100,000 start for his album isn't necessarily a lock, if it does more more than 100,000, that would give us three 100,000-plus rap debuts in a week. We haven't had that happen since way back in November of 2006. That Thanksgiving week saw the release of Jay-Z's "Kingdom Come" (680,000), Snoop Dogg's "Tha Blue Carpet Treatment" (264,000) and 2Pac's "Pac's Life" (159,000).
West's album, which had been kept tightly under wraps, leaked to the Internet on June 14. Five days earlier, Miller's set went viral, while Cole's effort reached the Web on June 7. The leaks have been taken into account when projecting their first week sales.
We'll have further updates on the sales forecast for West, Cole and Miller after their albums hit retail on June 18.