June 18 was a Super Tuesday for hip-hop, with new albums from Kanye West, J. Cole and Mac Miller all going on sale that day.
At the present, West's new "Yeezus" album is selling strongly -- though not quite as strongly as anticipated. Industry sources forecast that the set could sell 360,000 to 380,000 by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, June 23. That's off from the 500,000 that some prognosticators had forecast on June 14. (But, as has been noted before -- it is often difficult to predict what an album will sell before it's released.)
West's last solo album, 2010's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 496,000 sold in its first week according to Nielsen SoundScan. Its sales were boosted by its release during Thanksgiving week of that year -- when Christmas gift shopping kicks into high gear.
West has yet to debut a solo album with less than 441,000 copies sold in its first week -- the sum that greeted his first album, 2004's "The College Dropout."
While West's "Yeezus" may start slower than any of his previous solo sets, it should still lock up a No. 1 bow on next week's Billboard 200 chart. It will earn West his sixth consecutive No. 1 album -- and sixth chart-topper overall.
In the runner-up slot on next week's Billboard 200 will likely be J. Cole's second album "Born Sinner," which has blown past early sales forecasts of 150,000 to 200,000. At the present, sources say it should sell 270,000 to 290,000 -- with 300,000 easily in reach. To compare, J. Cole's first album, 2011's "Cole World: The Sideline Story," opened at No. 1 with 217,000 sold.
Mac Miller's "Watching Movies With the Sound Off" is also selling well, as it could move around 100,000. Yet, that would mark a lower start than his last effort, 2011's No. 1-debuting "Blue Slide Park" (144,000).
If West, Cole and Miller all sell 100,000 of their respective albums this week, it will be the first time since November 2006 that we've had three hip-hop albums debut with 100,000 or more. 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).