Kanye West, Graduation: 957,000
Release Date: 9/11/2007
Graduation had two distinct advantages over Kanye's previous releases. The record had the dual impact of "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (his first true street anthem) and "Stronger" (one of his biggest crossover hits) which helped firm up and expand Yeezy's already massive fan base. He also got into a highly publicized sales battle with 50 Cent which proved to be a brilliant marketing maneuver.
In the end, Kanye not only bested 50 in sales, but as a cultural force, too. The showdown determined whether the future of hip-hop would go for more of the dated gangsta rap tropes 50 followed or the more eccentric approach Kanye championed. We know which style has dominated since.