While Drake’s Thank Me Later didn’t sell a million copies in the first week, the debut moved almost 450,000 units and landed at #1 on the Billboard albums chart . That’s an amazing feat for any artist, let alone a rookie MC.
Drake and Em have proven that, despite an overall decline in record sales, artists who are able to engage fans and produce high-quality music will be rewarded on the charts. However, a huge question remains: Will anyone be able to knock Lil Wayne from his spot as the last artist to sell 1 million copies the first week of release?
Weezy reached that milestone back in 2008 , when Tha Carter III came out. And while Kanye West’s Graduation came within an eyelash of hitting the mark several weeks later and others, such as Susan Boyle, have put up monster first-week numbers, no one besides Wayne has cracked a milli.
XXL magazine’s Bonsu Thompson knows just the man up for the task: None other than Kanye West, whose song “Power,” from his upcoming LP, has already garnered critical acclaim.
“In order to sell a million albums, your momentum has to be working on all cylinders,” Thompson said via e-mail. “Kanye’s range is built for that. Musically, he has the ability to simultaneously have an infectious record in the streets and a monstrous record on radio and television loop. Add in his penchant for controversial quotes (he’s got a ton to address) and bringing the fashion and arts world wherever he goes, and it’s a home run (Barry Bonds).”
“It’s easy to say no one will ever hit that mark again, but there will always be someone,” said Jon Caramanica, a music critic for The New York Times. “Right now, Justin Bieber has the best chance and also Taylor Swift with her next album. Rappers are in danger.”
Vibe Editor in Chief Jermaine Hall said the next person to sell a million copies the first week will either be the man with the biggest-selling solo LP of all time or the last guy to reach a million sales the first week.
“It’s tough to say, based on music’s economical climate,” Hall said. “Certainly, if Sony is able to get something out on Michael [Jackson] by the fourth quarter with a solid single, that would be a contender. Outside of that, Wayne’s Carter IV also has to be considered. If he has a lead record anything close to the impact of ’Lollipop,’ he will be knocking on that door.”
Other industry insiders are way more pessimistic.
“I don’t know if it’s possible for an artist to sell a million records again in a week,” XXL Editor in Chief Vanessa Satten said. “Seems to me, sales are not an issue anymore, and no one wants to say that. We still stress over sales when we’ve had the Drake and Eminem albums for weeks. Sales are not the issue anymore, so I don’t know if that million in a week is feasible anymore.”
“I think Wayne is probably the last one to do that,” ThisIs50.com’s Jeremy Bettis agreed. “I don’t think people should pay too close attention to the numbers. I don’t think the numbers should take away from the actual project. I think that’s the problem with hip-hop. Everyone wants to know: ’What’s his first-week numbers?’ If it’s not what they think it should be, then they have a judgment about the album, which I think takes away from the project and the actual creativity of the music.”
“That 1 million that Wayne did was so out of this world, I don’t know that’s gonna happen again,” radio personality Miss Info said. “I don’t know that’s a fair bar to set. … I don’t think the emphasis at this point is even on sales. It’s about: ’How many stages are you gonna pack? How many endorsement deals are you gonna have? How many companies are you gonna launch?’ ”
“I think, even for record labels, it’s gonna be hard to see who sells a million,” said Angela Yee who hosts the Shade 45 radio show “The Morning After.” “I don’t think record labels rely on that. That’s why they are doing 360 deals. They’re getting money off your touring, how many ringtones you sell, T-shirts, your merchandising. I don’t know if [selling a million copies in your first week] is gonna happen anytime soon. That’s a phenomenon.”
The only real answer? Wait and see.
Who do you think will be the next artist to sell 1 million copies of their album in the first week of release? Share your predictions in the comments.
Don’t miss the “Drake: Better Than Good Enough” documentary , airing tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV!