Examining Rap Sales For 2014 – An Improvement Compared to R&B 


Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint © Motown/Universal

Urban sales are down – period. No one will dispute this truth, and the numbers support this. That said, one genre within urban circles has it better than others – rap. If R&B serves as the bottom dweller, hip-hop/rap is a clear step above. Here is a chart of 25 of the biggest rap releases of the year, including their peak position on the Billboard 200 (BB200 Peak), 1st week sales, previous 1st week sales (where applicable), and the percent difference between current/previous album’s 1st week sales. Stats, stats, and more stats!

Artist Album BB200 Peak 1st Week Sales Previous 1st Week Sales Percent Difference
1 J. Cole 2014 Forest Hills Drive 1 354,000 297,000 19.19%
2 Nicki Minaj The Pinkprint 2 194,000 253,000 -23.32%
3 Rick Ross Mastermind 1 179,000 218,000 -17.89%
4 Various Artists Shady XV 3 148,000 0
5 Schoolboy Q Oxymoron 1 139,000 0
6 Jeezy Seen It All: The Autobiography 2 121,000 233,000 -48.07%
7 Wiz Khalifa Blacc Hollywood 1 90,000 141,000 -36.17%
8 Kid Cudi Satellite Flight: The Journey To Mother Moon 4 87,000 136,000 -36.03%
9 T.I. Paperwork 2 80,000 179,000 -55.31%
10 Rick Ross Hood Billionaire 6 74,000 179,000 -58.66%
11 Logic Under Pressure 4 73,000 0
12 YG My Krazy Life 2 61,000 0
13 Future Honest 2 53,000 41,000 29.27%
14 Iggy Azalea The New Classic 3 52,000 0
15 Kid Ink My Own Lane 3 50,000 0
16 50 Cent Animal Ambition 4 47,000 160,000 -70.63%
17 G-Eazy These Things Happen 3 46,000 0
18 Big K.R.I.T. Cadillactica 5 44,000 41,000 7.32%
19 Tech N9ne Strangeulation 5 36,000 58,000 -37.93%
20 The Game Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf 7 33,000 86,000 -61.63%
21 Young Money Rise of An Empire 7 31,000 142,000 -78.17%
22 Hoodie Allen People Keep Talking 8 30,000 28,000 7.14%
23 Common Nobody’s Smiling 5 24,000 69,000 -65.22%
24 Ab-Soul These Days 11 22,000 0
25 Asher Roth RetroHash 45 6,000 65,000 -90.77%

J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive © Columbia

After taking a gander at the above-given chart, here are some takeaways. Only one album managed to sell greater than 200,000 copies, and that was J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive. That means percentage-wise only 4% of hip-hop albums issued in 2014 sold > than 200,000 copies. While that’s ugly, compared to R&B, it’s “4%” more than that genre can brag about, having 0% (0/39) albums sell > than 200,000 copies.

Aiming lower, examine how many rap albums managed to sell greater than 100,000 copies. While the numbers are still so-so, six albums accomplish this feat – J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross’ Mastermind, Shady XV, Schoolboy Q, and Jeezy. The percentage of albums selling > 100,000 is 24%. While there were seven R&B albums to sell greater than 100,000, compared against a greater amount of R&B albums released with much more modest success, only 18% of R&B albums sold > 100,000 copies.

SHADY XV © ShadyBeing even more inclusive, how about 75,000 copies and 50,000 copies? Nine rap albums sold > 75,000 copies, or 36% (R&B saw 21% or 8/39 albums do the same). Lowering the bar to 50,000 copies, 15/25 albums or 60% of rap albums sold 50K or more (R&B saw 15/39 albums or 38% do the same). Even with fewer albums, the sales accolades for hip-hop albums are stronger than R&B. Look at it another way. 40% of rap albums used in this study sold < than 50,000 copies their first week. In the R&B realm, those numbers are the majority, or 72% – phew!

Continuing on with the analysis, the average first-week sales for a hip-hop/rap album is ~83,000 copies. Compared to R&B’s 50,000 copies average. Those numbers are quite respectable. Guess what percentage of albums on this list managed to sell 83,000 copies or more – 32%, or 8/25 albums. Rap can thank J. Cole and Nicki Minaj’s late efforts for elevated numbers by all means.

Wiz Khalifa, Blacc Hollywood © Atlantic

Being even more nitpicky, let’s examine just the albums selling above 100,000 copies. The average sales of rap albums selling > than 100,000 copies the first week – 189,000 copies. Only J. Cole and Nicki Minaj cover that amount of sales obviously.   For R&B, the average is 138,000 copies, though 4/7 100,000-copies+ albums cover that: Ariana Grande, Sam Smith, Michael Jackson, and Chris Brown. Comparatively, there were greater hip-hop sales >100,000 combined: 1,135,000 (Rap) versus 966,000 (R&B).

What about sales comparison above the average 1st week sales for rap (83,000) and R&B (50,000)? For rap, add the 90,000 copies Wiz Khalifa’s Blacc Hollywood and the 87,000 copies Kid Cudi’s Satellite Flight sold its 1st week, elevating the total from 1,135,000 to 1,312,000.   For R&B, the numbers are larger, though more albums garnering fewer individual sales – 1,469,000. The takeaway – rap albums are getting better individual sales than R&B albums. It doesn’t take overkill numbers to realize that though!

Rick Ross, Mastermind © Def Jam

One last numerical analysis – the percent difference between current and previous 1st week albums.   What percentage of rap albums showed ‘growth’ in sales? The answer my friends is ~24% or 4/17 (~1/4th) of applicable albums. That means that ~76% of albums showed a drop in current 1st week sales. Compared to R&B, the numbers are also more positive. R&B saw 22% of albums show an increase of sale, meaning ~78% showed a drop – YUCK (which rhymes with another word that the labels and artists are saying to themselves as the read the numbers).

So, all said and done, hip-hop isn’t dead. Sure, achieving gold and platinum albums seems to be an issue, but it’s an issue across the board. Rap artists are definitely in better shape than R&B artists, who seem to be dropping like flies commercially. Honestly, the average being so stark between the two in first week sales is alarming. Enough numbers for right now!

Photo Credits: © Republic, © Columbia, © Shady, © Atlantic, © Def Jam
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One comment

  1. the industry puts more paper and a push behind rap than R&B. and the newer R&B acts of today don’t have no built in brand. i mean Chris Brown was like the last cat who blew up, gone are those R.Kelly,Usher type of runs and on the female side Mary J Bliege, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, runs. you got acts still hitting however not alot of statement and basically R&B ain’t really had a statement of happening acts since the 90’s and pretty much all of those acts took Hip Hop into there own stew so that line got blurred. alot of poltics involved as well.

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