Kanye West, Nicki Minaj Dominate Billboard

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sold nearly half a million in first week.

In the biggest album release week of the year, Kanye West and Nicki Minaj pulled way ahead of the pack. Preliminary figures provided by Nielsen SoundScan peg his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy debuting with more than 495,000 copies sold compared to 375,000 for Minaj’s long-awaited major-label debut, Pink Friday.

Though some questioned Kanye’s decision to leak one song per week in the months leading up to the release of Fantasy, including nearly all of the album’s major tracks, in the end, fans still appear to have come out for the rapper’s fifth studio album. Fantasy matched the #1 debut of Kanye’s previous effort, 2008′s vocal-heavy 808s & Heartbreak, which moved 450,000 copies in its first week.

Neither, however, come close to reaching the MC’s chart peak, which he achieved in 2007 with Graduation, which also debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart after selling a whopping 957,000 copies in its first week in the midst of a much-hyped chart battle with 50 Cent’s album Curtis.

After more than two years of headline-grabbing guest spots on tracks by everyone from Gucci Mane to Mariah Carey, Trey Songz, Bobby Valentino, Mya, Robin Thicke, Ludacris and, of course, Kanye, anticipation was high for Minaj’s Friday. In the end, Minaj just narrowly missed the record for the best debut album sales by a female rapper, falling a bit short of the mark set by former Fugees member Lauryn Hill in 1998 with her smash hit The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which moved 423,000 copies in its chart bow.

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