Led by Kanye West's Yeezus, all of the top four albums on the Billboard 200 this week are new entries. West's Yeezus arrives with 327,000 -- the third-largest sales week of the year. It's bested only by the debuts of Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience (968,000) and Daft Punk's Random Access Memories(339,000).
J. Cole's Born Sinner enters at No. 2 this week with 297,000, his best sales week yet. It's the largest debut at No. 2 since the Dec. 11, 2010, chart, when Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday bowed with 375,000. Coincidentally, she was stuck behind a debut from West as well. That week, his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasylaunched at No. 1 with 496,000.
Behind Cole this week is the third rap debut in the top three: Mac Miller'sWatching Movies With the Sound Off, starting at No. 3 with 102,000.
Kelly Rowland's fourth studio album, Talk a Good Game, is the fourth and final arrival in the top 10. It lands at No. 4 with 68,000, marking her third 10 set. The arrival is Rowland's smallest start, dipping below the 77,000 that launched her last album, 2011's No. 3-debuting Here I Am.
But let's get back to West. The sales launch for Yeezus is softer than industry sources had forecast. On the Friday before its release (June 14), it had been tipped to start with perhaps 500,000. However, a week later, its sales projection had fallen to 330,000 to 340,000.
On the other hand, Cole blew past expectations, selling about 100,000 copies more than the 150,000 to 200,000 that was forecast on June 14. Even better, its start is larger than the projection made on the day after its release on June 18, when insiders said it could do 270,000 to 290,000.
As for Miller, his album starts on target with forecasts made on June 19. However, his bow is smaller than that of his last release, 2011's No. 1-debutingBlue Slide Park (144,000).
With West, Cole and Miller all starting north of 100,000, it's the first time since November 2006 that three rap albums have debuted with sales that exceed 100,000. That Thanksgiving week saw the release of Jay-Z's Kingdom Come(680,000 sold first week), Snoop Dogg's Tha Blue Carpet Treatment (264,000) and 2Pac's Pac's Life (159,000).
This is also the first week since last October where two albums -- regardless of their genre -- started with more than 200,000. It last happened on the Nov. 10-dated chart (reflecting the sales week ending Oct. 28). That week, Taylor Swift'sRed arrived with 1.2 million while Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D City started with 241,000.