2009 marked a changing of the guard in rap, so to speak, with acts like Drake, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Wale, and Wiz Khalifa emerging as the new school who would subsequently become the cream of the crop in hip-hop. As such, a number of high-profile album releases also took place during this time period, specifically debut projects that came out on a major label.
In turn, we have put together a definitive list of the first-week sales for major label rap debuts from 2009-2014. Over 40 albums are included, which means you'll be able to draw your own conclusions based on the results.
To clear the air before you dive into the numbers, realize this list follows a set of guidelines that distinguishes the type of projects included. So while Section.80 is technically Kendrick Lamar's debut studio album, it's not his major label debut. That goes to good kid, m.A.A.d city, which dropped on Interscope in 2012. A similar result with Wiz Khalifa: His debut album, Show and Prove, came out in 2006 through independent label Rostrum. In 2010, he signed a major label deal with Atlantic, and a year later dropped his major label debut, Rolling Papers.
There's also the tricky situation that is distribution. Often times, an independent artist will reach out to a major label for distribution, but never actually join their roster of talent. Macklemore made headlines in this regard with the release of his independent album, The Heist, which was distributed through ADA, a wing of Warner Bros. To be clear, distribution does not mean full label backing of a project.
Mac Miller's Watching Movies With the Sound Off was distributed through Universal Records, but only in countries outside of America. Like Wiz Khalifa before him, who later signed with Atlantic through which he released Rolling Papers, Mac's album was properly released on Rostrum, an independent label through and through. The same goes for Childish Gambino. Both of his albums were released through Glassnote (an independent label), and distributed through Universal. These types of albums are not on this list.
We are including artists who transitioned from groups to solo acts, such as Big Boi, 2 Chainz, and Pusha T. Finally, no compilation or one-off joint projects. Sorry, Young Money, G.O.O.D. Music, and the Throne. Scroll down below to find out who's really moving units out the gate in the modern rap era.