Lil’ Wayne has topped the charts once again with his new album, “Carter IV,” which currently sits atop the Billboard charts with 964,000 copies sold in its first week. It is the second biggest first week opening for an album this year, behind only Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which debuted at 1.1 million its first week.
The "Carter IV" marks a personal victory for the 29 year-old rapper. His new album sold more than twice as many units in its first week as Jay-Z’s and Kanye West’s collaborative album, “Watch the Throne,” which came out last month and sold 436,000 in its first week.
The feat beats arguably the two biggest names in rap, and is quite a coup for Lil Wayne, who released his new album with far less pomp and fanfare than the Jay-Z and Kanye West record; “Watch the Throne” was advertised with an internet trailer displaying the two rappers basking like iconic deities in a worshiping spotlight.
Based on the stark differences in images between the rappers, one has to wonder if this led to a difference in album sales. How did Lil’ Wayne sell twice as many albums as a much anticipated project between the two biggest names in rap?
Jay-Z and West are synonymous with hip-hop royalty. Jay-Z is married to pop diva Beyonce, has taken part in photo shoots with Warren Buffet, bought an NBA team, and has referred to himself as a “modern-day Frank Sinatra.”
West, known and admired by some for his arrogance, also lives up to his “Watch the Throne” image with ego-stroking antics like wearing a crown of thorns on the cover of Rolling Stone and once saying he was being persecuted by the public like “Hitler.” However, despite the arrogance and ego, West also has the album sales to back it up.
Lil’ Wayne, on the other hand, is known to be wealthy, but is mainly seen as a southern rapper with clever lyrics and a bad boy image. And industry insiders believe that the images of the rappers on fans’ minds may have had an effect on album sales.
“The potential for negative perception of an artist is certainly part of the sales equation,” entertainment attorney, Barrie Resnick, told Forbes.com. “I think that people perceive Wayne as a fun guy to be around, and perhaps he takes himself a little less seriously than the Throne guys.”
“Lil’ Wayne is a businessman, too, but he’ll never be as big as Jay-Z. Jay-Z owns arenas,” a fan told The Christian Post, referring to the arena project Jay-Z is currently building in Brooklyn with Russian billionaire, Mikhail Prokhorov.
Some have even suggested “Watch the Throne” was an insult to people who are being negatively affected by the economy. TheGrio.com, an African-American news website, referred to the album as "a smack in the face to black America’s economic plight” for its odes to lavishness while ignoring those who are going through hard times, especially in the black community.
The “Carter IV” is Lil Wayne’s first album since being released from prison on gun charges last year. While in prison, he told fans about his faith through his website, according to Rolling Stone. “I read the Bible every day,” he said, adding, “Jail didn't make me find God, He's always been there. They can lock me up, but my spirit and my love can never be confined to prison walls.”
And apparently, neither can his success. To complement his near-platinum record sales over the past week, BET nominated Lil' Wayne 19 times in the 2011 ET Hip Hop Awards. He will face off against Jay-Z and Kanye West in several categories, including "Lyricist of the Year."