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Kanye’s ‘Yeezus’ Underwhelms in Album Sales, Still No. 1

Riding a wave of anticipation, Kanye West’s “Yeezus” made its much-augured No. 1 debut on the U.S. album chart, besting new titles by a pair of other rappers with chart-topping track records.

West’s Def Jam release shot to the top with a first-week total of 327,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending June 23. That number was good for the third-best debut of 2013, trailing Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” which shifted 968,000 out of the box, and Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” which moved 339,000.

It was West’s fifth solo No. 1 title and sixth No. 1 overall (counting 2011’s collaboration with Jay-Z, “Watch the Throne”). Only his 2004 debut “The College Dropout” fell short of the apex, peaking at No. 2.

While West’s bow at the pinnacle was virtually a given, many observers had believed that the title had the capacity to sell half a million copies its first week. His last solo set, 2010’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” came aboard with a 496,000-copy frame.

Hot on West’s heels was J. Cole’s “Born Sinner” (Columbia), which claimed the No. 2 slot with a 297,000-unit splash. The North Carolina rapper’s formal debut “Cole World: The Sideline Story” (2011) reached No. 1 behind a 218,000-unit stanza.

Filling out the week’s trifecta of hot rap debuts was Mac Miller’s “Watching Movies With the Sound Off” (Rostrum), which scored No 3 with 102,000 sold. The Pittsburgh artist made his first chart mark with 2011’s “Blue Slide Park,” which cruised to No. 1 with a 145,000-unit debut week.

The week’s other debut, former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland’s “Talk a Good Game” (Republic), settled in at No. 4, reaping sales of 68,000. Set was off the pace of the vocalist’s last, highest-charting release, 2011’s “Here I Am,” which peaked at No. 3 with 77,000 sold on arrival.

Remainder of the national top 10 comprised holdovers: last week’s No. 1, Black Sabbath’s “13” (No. 5, 46,000 sold, down 71%), “Random Access Memories” (No. 6, 40,000, off 17%), “Hunter Hayes” (No. 7, 40,000, soaring 539% after a deluxe re-release), Florida Georgia Line’s “Here’s to the Good Times” (No. 8, 33,000, flat), “The 20/20 Experience” (No. 9, 32,000, down 8%) and Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” (No. 10, 26,000, down 7%). Timberlake’s album topped the 2 million mark last week.

Rapper Wale and Christian rock band Skillet should contend for the biggest bows on next week’s chart.

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