Kanye West‘s “Yeezus” topped the Billboard charts in its first week, but it also served as the rapper’s weakest debut of his career.
The album sold 327,000 copies, finding itself significantly behind West’s 2004 debut album “The College Dropout,” which sold 441,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Not only did the sales figure serve as the new father’s weakest, it also fell short of the 500,000 copies initially predicted by industry sources.
While all that may seem like bad news for West’s career, there are some serious caveats to be considered. The “Black Skinheads” rapper refused to market the album, denying the public a single, video or major TV appearance (save for “SNL”). Keith Caulfield, Billboard’s associate director of charts/retail, considers the sales figure a triumph.
“He specifically limited the kinds of traditional promotion done for an album,” Caulfield says. “It’s a smallish figure compared to what he normally does, but considering what hampered it, it’s fairly handsome. If anyone has proven that a lot of risks can be taken to great reward, it’s Kanye West. He’s not a conventional artist, and that’s why people like him. They’re purchasing the album without a lot of information about it.”
“Yeezus” is West’s sixth No. 1 and the best rap album debut since Drake‘s 2011 album “Take Care” sold 631,000 in its first week. Beyond that, it’s 2013’s third-highest sales week, behind Justin Timberlake‘s “The 20/20 Experience” (968,000) and Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” (339,000).