The Year in R&B/Hip-Hop: Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj Reign Supreme
The Year in R&B/Hip-Hop: Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj Reign Supreme

It's official: Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter IV" has sold 964,000 in its first week according to Nielsen SoundScan, easily enabling its No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 chart. It is his third No. 1 album following "Tha Carter III" and "I Am Not a Human Being."

"Carter IV" earns the biggest sales week for a hip-hop album (or any set by a male artist) since his own "Carter III" bowed with 1.01 million on the June 28, 2008 chart. "Carter IV" also marks 2011's second-biggest frame, behind Lady Gaga's 1.11 million debut with "Born This Way."

Lil Wayne Breaks iTunes' Single-Week Album Sales Record

Of course, Gaga's first week was bolstered by two days' worth of 99-cent sale pricing from AmazonMP3's store. "Carter IV" managed to sell nearly a million without such tactics. It's estimated that AmazonMP3 sold upwards of 440,000 downloads of its 99-cent "Born This Way" album.

Lil Wayne's 'Tha Carter IV': Track-By-Track Review

Speaking of downloads, "Carter IV" shifted 362,000 digital copies in its first week. That marks the second-largest digital sales week of all time for an album; again, behind "Born This Way," with 662,000 downloads.

However, while SoundScan does not disclose retailer-specific figures, sources say "Carter" easily broke the U.S. iTunes Store's single-week album sales record, with around 345,000 sold via iTunes.

Lil Wayne Closes 2011 MTV VMAs Like a Rock Star: Watch

"Tha Carter IV" is off to a fast start courtesy of both a hot single and an eve-of-release performance by Wayne on the highly rated MTV Video Music Awards telecast (Aug. 28). His "How to Love" single is his first top 10 hit as a lead artist on the Pop Songs chart since 2008, when "Lollipop" ("Tha Carter III's" first single) went to No. 5. "Love" is in fact only his second top 10 on the Pop Songs tally, after "Lollipop."

Also, figure that the "Carter" name brand carries weight with fans, much in the same way the word "blueprint" makes Jay-Z aficionados take notice. He's had three "Blueprint" albums to date: all debuted at No. 1 with over 400,000 sold in their respective first weeks.

A full recap of the week's top 10 selling albums and digital songs will follow on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 7.