Tha Carter IV's First-Week Sales Projections: Not Quite A Milli, But Pretty Close

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Yesterday Billboard reported that Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV—the hyperactive MC's proper followup to 2008's Tha Carter III, which moved a million copies in its first week—might go on to sell as many as 850,000 copies in its first week out. That's an impressive number for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that not many chart theorists were expecting its week-one sales to even pass the 436,000 first-week mark of Kanye West and Jay-Z's recent album Watch The Throne, let alone nearly lap it. I called on two Wayne watchers to offer their theories on this album's blowup: Andy Hutchins, who gave the record a rather lukewarm review in this space shortly after it dropped; and Chris Molanphy, who made some predictions regarding the album's first-week sales. Gentlemen?

Andy Hutchins:

Tha Carter IV is going to prove that a 28-year-old rapper with a prodigious work rate and well-established ubiquity can still sell more copies of a disappointing album in 2011 than two 34-plus rappers who made a far better album. Lil Wayne's latest LP is slated to nearly double Watch The Throne's first week, with projected sales topping 850,000 to WTT's 436,000, and it could well lap its purer-pedigree critical superior. Look at screen time and for reasons why.

Throne was a massive event on Twitter, with a virtually leak-free release creating a 140'd frenzy at midnight on its release date; C4 did that and more, building off lukewarm to bad buzz and "beef"-fueled chatter following its days-early leak with the splashy thrashing Wayne did at the VMAs. None of that made C4 look like a better buy, but it did remind Wayne's massive fan base that it was about to be available, and the snark from the many non-fans in the VMAs' record-breaking audience might have helped redouble Weezy Nation's support for their slightly tarnished star. (The miserable Sorry 4 The Wait probably accomplished something similar.)

Wayne remained on radio despite his prison bid, too, and seemed to be as omnipresent as ever leading up to C4. He's got two of the Hot 100's top eight songs, both C4 singles, and features on "I'm On One," now No. 18 after peaking at No. 10. The usual assortment of guest verses (on Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now" and Ace Hood's "Hustle Hard" remix, notably) kept Weezy's croak on the airwaves during the run-up to the long-gestating album, and there's certainly some element of his following that bought it for the singles. Where they bought it remains to be seen, but the Drake-delivered reminder to buy it on iTunes that MTV threw up on Sunday and the availability of physical copies in stores on Monday made this both a digital and traditional rollout. And it's delivered sales beyond most estimations.

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3 comments
Cooper409
Cooper409

Pretty shrewd post-release handicapping!  But dare I say that Weezy's advantage is not only his age.   From head to toe he is  much more of a RILF to the libidinal consumer than either Jay-Z or Kanye!

Riley Hamilton
Riley Hamilton

Cash Money buys 400k of every album they release. So that might explain the number.

Chris Molanphy
Chris Molanphy

I'd like to believe you, but I can't: These projections are based on early retail returns, not any specific report. Plus, Soundscan shuts down the feed from any retailer or other sales source with an outsize number (I have it on good authority they've had to do it a few times over the last couple decades to preserve the integrity of the system). Accusations of sales-gaming are as old as the record industry itself, but it's honestly much harder to pull this off nowadays than it was 20 years ago.

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