Believes Universal Republic Undershipped 'WZRD' LP; Retail Experts Call Numbers Realistic
After releasing a pair of well-received hip-hop albums, Kid Cudi has switched up his sound with "WZRD," a psych-rock experiment between the Cleveland hip-hop artist and producer Dot Da Genius. On Tuesday (Feb. 28), the day of "WZRD's" release, Cudi took to Twitter to thank fans for supporting the side project -- and to badmouth his label, Universal Republic, for shipping what he considers to be a low number of physical copies of the album.
"Ok so just a heads up, my weak ass label only shipped 55k physicals cuz they treated this like some indie side project tax right off [sic]," Cudi posted."So i apologize on behalf of my weak ass major label. And I apologize for the lack of promo, again, my weak ass major label."
Cudi also claimed that Universal Republic "tried to rush me thru this so i can just give em another MOTM ["Man On the Moon" album], but guess what? F--- that, next album is WZRD. MOTM3 on hold til 2014." He later added, "Im lettin Universal Republic have it, f--- it. What they gon' do, spank me?? hahahaha."
While 55,000 is a small shipment in light of the fact that his previous album, "Man On The Moon 2: The Legend," scanned 169,000 units in the first week (of which 77,000, or 45.6%, of sales were CD, according to Nielsen SoundScan), and that Universal Republic probably shipped approximately 200,000 units of that album initially. Indeed, his two albums have scanned 1.19 million units, with his debut, "Man on the Moon: The End of Day" (featuring the hit single "Day N' Night") selling 693,000 in total, 104,000 the first week; and "Man On the Moon 2" selling a total of 493,000 units.
However, the rock-based new LP represents a dramatic stylistic shift from the hip-hop of his first two albums.
"He is accurate that Universal shipped about 55,000 units, but this album is not in the vein of his prior releases," a source told Billboard.
At retail, Trans World Music urban buyer Christina Amadore-Smith said that despite the change in musical direction, she brought the album in heavy and it is already outselling her aggressive projection.
But she also added that the album is projected to have first week sales of about 55,000 units in the U.S., split evenly between digital and CD.
Industry experts told Billboard that the label's CD shipment should be more than enough to meet demand.
"I have been a fan since 2004 and I think this album is different but good," Amadore-Smith said. "I think the sales projection is a pretty decent number for him putting out a random rock album. I thought it would overperform and he will blow past our first week projections," although she declined to specify just how much.
The album has been at the top of the iTunes album chart for most of Tuesday.
Of course, Universal has experience with rock albums by successful rappers. After Lil Wayne released three platinum-plus albums, his 2010 rock album, "Rebirth," scanned 175,000 units in its first week of availability - just 17.5% of the 1 million units his prior hip-hop album, "Tha Carter III," achieved in its first week. It's probably safe to assume those numbers played into Universal's thinking with "WZRD."
At a listening session for the "WZRD" album in New York last week, Cudi said that the album was inspired by artists like Pink Floyd, Pixies, Nirvana and Electric Light Orchestra, and eventually grew agitated with some of the questions during a special Q&A.
"When two individuals who are putting their life out there through song, and they ask for your attention, you [the listeners] give it to them," Cudi told the crowd. "You came here for a purpose... to hear our music. So f---ing listen to it because we're trying to educate you on what we're doing... it's as simple as that!"
At press time, reps for Universal Republic had not responded to Billboard's requests for comment.