With a heavy mixtape buzz, a number one radio single, a packed tour schedule and a top selling Itunes single, should Wiz Khalifa have come second in first week album sales for his Atlantic Record debut Rolling Papers to a comparatively less active Britney Spears and her latest album Femme Fatale?
While it is true Britney Spears is the more established star with a much larger fan base, the pop music starlet hasn’t been quite as visible as Wiz Khalifa has been in the past two years with a three year gap between albums. It could also be argued that this debut is a bit of drop for Spears as she's traditionally sold more in her 11-year career. Her last album Circus had first week sales of 506,000.
Wiz Khalifa enjoyed an extremely busy 2010 with his critically acclaimed free for download mixtape Kush & OJ spiking his popularity to even higher heights. Coupled with a series of nationwide tours and collaborations with fellow cannabis enthusiast Curren$y and others, the “Black and Yellow” star was directly positioned to win in a relatively quiet first quarter for 2011 rap releases.
Wiz also had the good fortune of snagging west coast legend Snoop Dogg, Florida crooner T-Pain and Memphis rapper Juicy J on a celebrated "G-mix" of his Pittsburgh Steelers adopted hit song. There was also a playful feud and bet between Wiz and Green Bay Packer fan Lil Wayne, with his team met Wiz's hometown squad in this year's Superbowl. Even reality star Vinny from MTV's hit show Jersey Shore did a remix of Wiz's track titled "Black and Guido" as well as Hollywood vet Tom Hanks' son Chet performing a rendition. With all of this attention, the sales numbers for Wiz seem almost paltry.
But people shouldn’t be too hard on Wiz. While Britney scored her sixth #1 album debut of her career with 276,000 sold, Wiz came in a distant but respectable second with 198,200 albums sold. Compared to his aforementioned collaborator and upcoming High School film co-star Snoop Dogg who dropped on the same day, Wiz did extremely well. The west coast veteran’s eleventh studio album Doggumentary clocked in 49,145 for the week.
Many industry insiders could blame the poor sales climate and the economy for lagging album sales. However, a more mitigating factor could be that albums have to grow with listeners as the fans of rap have become accustomed to studio quality mixtapes for free and the idea of purchasing music without knowing the material may seem daunting to some.
With Wiz embarking on a college tour with fellow Pittsburgh native Mac Miller and upcoming singles, the breezy rapper will surely see a spike in sales in the weeks and months to come.
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