There is little doubt that when Watch the Throne debuts on the Billboard albums chart next week, Jay-Z and Kanye West will snag the #1 spot. The real question is: How much will the superstar duo actually sell when the smoke clears and the first-week retail registers are tallied?
"I'm gonna say, ladies and gentlemen: 450,000," Shade 45's DJ Wonder said on Wednesday's "RapFix Live."
Statik Selektah and Hot 97's DJ Kast One predicted similar numbers. Kast guessed the duo would sell anywhere from 350,000 to 400,000 thousand copies of their new LP, while Statik, who spins on Shade 45's "Showoff Radio" show on Thursday nights, thought the Throne would hit the 500,000 sales mark and earn themselves a gold plaque in the first week.
On Monday, the day of Watch the Throne's exclusive iTunes release, Billboard.biz predicted that the mega-collaboration would sell anywhere between 400,000 and 500,000 units. But the very next day, the site reported that based on the first day of sales, WTT was projected to go upwards of 500,000 in week one.
Estimates may be adjusted again once the physical copy of the album is released to retailers on Friday, but as of now, Vibe editorial director Datwon Thomas' guess is on pace with current projections.
"I'm going just north of half-a-mil, only because of the fact that they're coming out so unorthodox," he said of Watch the Throne's rollout, which as of now has produced no crossover single, just the boom-bap affair, "Otis." "I don't know if Middle America has latched onto the concept of just throwing out a hot record that can just carry through urban areas and not lift off with the traditional hook that they're used to from a Jay or Kanye."
Some wondered if superstars like Hov and Yeezy were actually capable of selling a million copies in one week. Rap Radar founder and Respect magazine editor in chief Elliot Wilson didn't rule out the romanticized sales figure, though he feels it may be unobtainable at this point. "I think they'd love to sell a million records in the first week and show that you could still do something like that," he said. "I think it's possible. Is it probable? Probably not, but I think it will do big-boy numbers first week. I think it will do at least 400k or something like that."
No one has ever entertained the thought that Watch the Throne could tank. Even though fans had only heard two songs leading up to the album's drop ("H.A.M." and "Otis"), Jay-Z and Kanye's respective legacies were enough to ensure the Throne's sales success. The real question was whether it would meet critical expectations.
"I don't think [Kanye and Jay] really care what the sales look like," Wilson said. "I think it's more about people saying the album's dope and the peer group props that come with it, and the influence and the impact and the fact that, 'Damn we really did do it. We really did get it out there. Now we're gonna go on tour, and it's a celebration.' "
What are you expecting from the "Otis" video? Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #MTVOtis.