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Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’ unlikely to match Justin Timberlake’s sales

After months speculatiKanye West’s album “Yeezus” drops June 18.  |  Getty Images

After months of speculation, Kanye West’s album “Yeezus” drops June 18. | Getty Images

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Updated: July 19, 2013 6:13AM



Kanye West’s new album “Yeezus,” out Tuesday on Def Jam, is expected to sell 500,000 copies its first week.

“That’s what industry forecasters suggest,” says Keith Caulfield, Billboard’s associate director of charts/retail. “It’s difficult to a degree to predict an album’s sales until it actually goes on sale, but the closer you are to the release date, the better you can tell. It’s like a weather forecast.”

Friday’s leak of “Yeezus” was factored into projections, he says.

The half-million mark would put the new dad’s sixth studio album in the same ballpark as his previous releases. “Watch the Throne,” 2011’s collaboration with Jay-Z, opened with 436,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. West’s two most recent solo albums enjoyed similar launches: 2010’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” with 496,000, and 2008’s “808s & Heartbreak” with 450,000.

Both were released during Thanksgiving week.

“They had a big holiday and Christmas to drive sales, and you don’t have that now,” Caulfield says, adding wryly, “Plus, he’s missing the Father’s Day window.”

What may boost “Yeezus” is its air of secrecy and unconventional marketing.

In the weeks leading up to its release, “there’s no single, no video, no formal promotional rollout,” Caulfield says. “The album kind of drops out of the sky with some mystery and excitement that can drive interest.”

In the year’s album race, “Yeezus” sales of 500,000 copies would place West ahead of Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” which sold 339,000 copies its first week. The tally would fall far short of Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” which opened atop the album chart in March with 968,000 copies, leaving West in second place.

That may not satisfy the rapper’s outsized ego. In a New York Times interview published last week, he dubbed himself the Michael Jordan of music and the Steve Jobs of “downtown, fashion, culture.” On Wednesday, he posted a clip on his official website declaring, “I am a god.”

On the album chart, he is a likely runner-up.

Gannett News Service



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