Jay-Z’s First-Week Sales: Not Quite Eminem-Level, But Not Bad By Any Stretch

Unsurprisingly, Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 debuted atop today’s Billboard 200, thanks to sales of 476,000 copies in the time that elapsed between its release last Tuesday and Sunday night. But how did Jay’s first-week numbers fare in the more rarefied arena of No. 1 debuts? I crunched a few numbers to figure out just how all of the albums that topped the charts in their first week of sales fared, and came away slightly surprised!

It wasn’t surprising that Eminem’s first-week numbers for Relapse were the best posted by a debuting album all year, but I was a bit taken aback by the fact that a little rock band called U2 beat Jay out by a slim margin:

1. Eminem, Relapse (608,000, June 6)
2. U2, No Line On The Horizon (484,000, March 14)
3. Jay-Z, The Blueprint III (476,000, Sept. 26)
4. Dave Matthews Band, Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King (424,000, June 20)
5. Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable (351,000, April 25)
6. Maxwell, BLACKsummer’snight (316,000, July 25)
7. Whitney Houston, I Look To You (305,000, Sept. 19)
8. Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D. (304,000, June 27)
9. Daughtry, Leave This Town (269,000, Aug. 1)
10. Kelly Clarkson, All I Ever Wanted (255,000, March 28)
11. Jonas Brothers, Lines, Vines, And Trying Times (247,000, July 4)
12. Bruce Springsteen, Working On A Dream (224,000, Feb. 14)
13. Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown (215,000, May 30)
14. The Fray (179,000, Feb. 21)
15. Keith Urban, Defying Gravity (171,000, April 18)
16. Rick Ross, Deeper Than Rap (158,000, May 9)
17. George Strait, Twang (155,000, Aug. 29)
18. Now 30 (146,000, April 11)
19. Bob Dylan, Together Through Life (125,000, May 16)
20. Demi Lovato, Here We Go Again (108,000, Aug. 8)
21. Colbie Caillat, Breakthrough (106,000, Sept. 12)
22. Fabolous, Loso’s Way (99,000, Aug. 15)
23. Reba McEntire, Keep On Loving You (96,000, Sept. 5)
24. Chrisette Michele, Epiphany (83,000, May 23)
25. Sugarland, Live On the Inside (75,000, Aug. 22)

Maybe it’s just that the expectations for U2′s album were a lot higher than those for Blueprint 3—recall that last week, early estimates had Jay’s first-week sales somewhere around the 300k mark—but the reaction when the numbers finally came out was very different than the semi-triumphant reception this week’s numbers are getting, no? I guess the summer was really that bad for the biz…

Beatles, Jay-Z Dominate Album Charts [Billboard]

  • http://www.mixtapesforhookers.com bcapirigi

    Colbie Caillat had a number 1 album?! Way to be tedious, America.

  • Chris Molanphy

    You’re totally right about the expectations viz. U2 vs. Jigga. Think back to the winter — the U2 disc had been delayed from the prior holiday season; so not only fans but also the industry itself was expecting a serious blockbuster. They only got a modest one.

    There’s also the little matter of recent sales track record. U2 were coming off an album with a monster first week back in 2004, when …Atomic Bomb did 800K-plus in its first week.

    During those same five years, Jay-Z “retired,” became a Def Jam executive, un-retired, and released two albums (now, a third). Each of the two postretirement discs underwhelmed a bit at retail: 680,000 for Kingdom Come and 426,000 for American Gangster. So the fact that Blueprint 3 did better than 2007′s Gangster, in this shitty sales climate, is a serious achievement.

    Ironically, it also did better than 2003′s Black Album, his last disc before retirement, which only shifted 463,000 in week one. Basically, there seems to be no relation between the quality of Jay’s albums and their first-week sales — the highest ever week he’s had was the universally-agreed-to-be-crappy Kingdom Come, and yet when that did nearly 700K in 2006 it was considered a disappointment, because that year he was presented as rap’s own Jordan returning to the court. Again, to your point: it’s all about expectations.

  • http://www.thecorner.co.nz hussein

    you seemed to have missed Jadakiss’ impressive first week sales with over 134,000. What’s up with that?

  • http://idolator.com/ Maura

    @hussein: I only listed No. 1 debuts. You’ll notice that the Hannah Montana Movie soundtrack is also not on this list, because it debuted at No. 2 (and moved up to the top spot a week later).

  • fre2daa

    @Chris Molanphy: Wow Chris, you’re like a human music encyclopaedia.

  • Chris Molanphy

    @fre2daa: You are very kind, but just to be full-disclosure and whatnot, I pulled the Jay-Z first-week Soundscan numbers from Wikipedia.

    Still, thanks. [blushing]

  • fre2daa
  • http://www.thecorner.co.nz hussein

    my bad. thanks m.

  • LondonInNY

    EMINEM has not only dwarfed Jay Z in record sales over the last decade but his art form is more widely appreciated. While Eminem asks deep questions, Jay Z's music is simply NARCISSITIC POSE. Do you recall a time when “great art” questioned the foundation or direction of our culture, the course of humanity, the nature of people and their values, the call for a higher purpose? “Can you IMAGINE? It’s easy if you try.” The lyrics of artists like Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna are barren and completely devoid of meaning and utterly soul less in their relative insignificance. The Hip Hop Movement in America was hijacked by thugs posing as artists more consumed with gaining control of the music industry diluting the strength of the voices of empowerment, equality and dignity and churning out distraction for the delusional masses. Jay Z is simply the Black Madonna and Beyonce is a convenient BEARD who is getting more rich off her business alliance with Jay Z. Jay Z & Beyonce are the black answer to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, only Jay did not jump up and down on Oprah’s couch.

  • I’m Listening

    Are you a Dumb or just dumb? Are you ethnocentric? Are you you consumed by societie implementation of colorism? Are you drowning in the sea of witlessness and illiteracy. Have you examined the lyrical content of Jay z vs Eminem. As jay z onced stated “Do you listen to music or do you just skim through it”. In other words are you willing to face God(whether you believe or not)knowing you weren’t a good human being. Knowing you lived a lie and preached untruths.

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