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Yeezus, Born Sinner & Watching Movies, in that order (bro).

This, in and of itself, is a tricky subject. The business of predicting album sales has become increasingly difficult, as the complexity with which artists and labels lead their campaigns continues to develop. With no mainstream hit, one music video, and no gimmicky promotion scheme, how did Kendrick Lamar take the charts by storm, hitting the quarter-million mark in seven days? Or how about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who’ve never signed the proverbial or physical dotted line in an office frequented by label executives, going eight times platinum, and having their debut album The Heist certified gold. Why has it become more difficult? Because French Montana, who has been working towards his May 21st release date for–oh, I don’t know, give or take FIVE years–will probably not even crack the 100k mark, despite having the powerful Bad Boy, MMG and Interscope engines behind him.


Let’s set a premise. Mac Miller is going to sell records. That’s a given. Rostrum proved themselves a viable highway to traffic his Most Dope sound in 2011 when he posted a buck-fifty first week sales mark, and 2 years later, with a record breaking MTV show, an amazing lead single and a cult following behind him, he may very nearly double it. Unfortunately for him, here’s why he’ll be looking up at Kanye & J. Cole on June 26, when the official numbers are released.

Here’s another premise. J. Cole is the people’s champ. The complete antithesis of what Kanye West represents actually, and we’ll get to that. In a nutshell, he’s a college kid from North Carolina who waltzed into Jay-Z’s office with what probably were remnants of Oreo crumbs and Juicy Juice in his peach fuzz, and all but demanded a deal. Sure, America does love an underdog, which could also apply to Mac Miller. But no one ever gave J. Cole a chance. You think Mac’s an underdog? He’s platinum on the small screen. He was making cameo appearances on BET before anyone knew he wasn’t Justin Bieber’s brother. He’s no longer the underdog, people are now EXPECTING Mac Miller to succeed. He’s getting sued by Donald Trump because 80 million people watched his video, which borrowed ol’ Donald’s name. 80 MILLION PEOPLE. J. Cole on the other hand is still getting ridiculed because people type in “J. Cole & Jay-Z” on, and no results match their search query. It took him 3 tries to find a lead single that stuck on his debut album, and he’s labeled the most talented boring rapper in the industry. Finally, in 2013, he’s got probably the best rap single to drop this year (we said best, not hottest Aubrey), and a new confidence after dodging all the pitfalls of CW:TSS. He’s not going to need all kinds of other notoriety to sell records, he, like Mac Miller, has a cult following. The Dreamvillain nation has proved time and time again that if its up to them, Jermaine will always be afloat. Furthermore, considering the roller coaster ride Cole took them on in 2011, and they still made him the #1 selling artist of the week, imagine this year when he’s got a roll-out twice as strong. I see 350k in his future and that’s no reach.

Now, the third and final premise. Kanye West is rap. Like it or not. J. Cole and Mac Miller are attempting to take down King Kong from the skyscraper with way less than flying choppers and a few machine guns. Commend them for their gutsy thinking and willingness to place their paintings on the same wall as Mr. West’s (after all, you can’t be the best without beating the best), but this is Lebron planting his pivot foot right in front of Paul George and taking off for a game-winning lay-up in 2.2 seconds. Sure, as the ball was in-bounded it seemed as if young Paulie was in a position to stop the perennial MVP from getting to the rim, but when James landed back on the court after watching the ball slide through the net, we knew what it was. You could tell by the way he looked into the crowd, he wasn’t elated, he wasn’t overly excited, he was content. The DJ should’ve cued Lil’ Wayne’s “Curtains”, right at the chorus, when the former Mountain Dew endorsement artist belts out “I swear to God I ain’t nervous”. Everything Kanye does at this point defines a new wave of change and critic in pop culture. To have a crowd of 1,000 people gather around a building in Singapore to watch your projected face rap on a Friday night, no underdog is going to knock you off your throne. Best case scenario for the Pittsburgh kid: At the top of the following week, he’s in an 8th round war of attrition with Cole for second place, but the chances of that are as slim as Paris Hilton. And slimmer than the chances her YMCMB album gets purchased by anyone over 135 lbs. See you on the 18th.

-Khari Nixon (@KingVanGogh)