Drake Heading for 675,000-Plus No. 1 Debut on Billboard 200

Jess Baumung

Drake is set to rock the Billboard 200 chart next week.

The hip-hop star's "Nothing Was the Same" album is on course to earn the second-largest sales week of the year and easily debut at No. 1. Industry sources forecast the effort -- his third full-length release -- to sell over 675,000 copies by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Sept. 29.

The only larger week registered this year was when Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" debuted at No. 1 with 968,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

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"Nothing Was the Same" will mark Drake's third consecutive No. 1 album. His only release to miss the top slot was his debut EP, "So Far Gone," which was released in 2009 and debuted and peaked at No. 6. He then opened at No. 1 with his first two full-length sets: 2010's "Thank Me Later" and 2011's "Take Care."

"Nothing Was the Same's" projected sales will also give Drake his own personal best sales week. Each of his albums have steadily grown in first-week sales. "So Far Gone" bowed with 73,000; "Thank Me Later" started with 447,000 and "Take Care" launched with 631,000.

Drake's arrival could mark the largest sales week for a hip-hop album since Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter IV" debuted at No. 1 with 964,000 in September of 2011.

While Drake seemingly has the No. 1 slot locked up, there are a number of other new albums set for a high entry on the Billboard 200 next week.

Rock band Kings of Leon should enter at No. 2 with "Mechanical Bull." The group's sixth studio album may sell around 120,000. Their last release, 2010's "Come Around Sundown," earned the quartet its best week ever -- both in terms of chart placing and sales. It debuted and peaked at No. 2 with 184,000.

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"Believe" it or not, Cher is on course for her highest-charting solo album ever. The diva's new effort, "Closer to the Truth," is aiming for a No. 3 debut with around 65,000. She has never gone higher than No. 4 with her solo albums -- reaching that peak with both "Believe" in 1999 and "The Very Best of Cher" in 2003. (As one half of Sonny & Cher, she only went higher once -- with 1965's No. 2-peaking "Look at Us." It was stuck in the runner-up slot for eight weeks behind the Beatles' "Help!")

Meanwhile, fellow living legend Elton John is set to score his 18th top 10 album as "The Diving Board" could bow at No. 4. It may sell around 45,000.

Other albums set for sizable entries include Dream Theater's new self-titled album, Krewella's "Get Wet," Sting's "The Last Ship" and Metallica's soundtrack to its film "Metallica: Through the Never."