Kanye West's 'Yeezus': Heaven-sent or weak event?
FILE - In this July 1, 2012 file photo, Kanye West performs at the BET Awards in Los Angeles. West’s new album “Yeezus” is an artsy, dark adventure that isn’t easy to digest. The 10 tracks are made up of moody, electronic and erratic beats, and lyrics about race and religion. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — To no one's surprise, Kanye West's sixth solo effort debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts last month. But "Yeezus" sold only 327,000 units that week — West's lowest first-week sales since he released his 2004 debut, "The College Dropout."
This week, the fourth week the album has been out, "Yeezus" sold 29,000 units, bringing its total to 459,356, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Could West's album be headed south?
Joe Levy, editor of Billboard, says the rapper hasn't promoted his album the way most A-list artists do, so "Yeezus" is performing nicely.
"With almost absolutely no promotion and certainly nothing traditionally defined as album release promotion, no single, no video, no magazine covers. ... This is a fan reaction based purely on interest and anticipation," he said. "I think given the way he's approached this release, he's doing quite well."
West wouldn't be interviewed for this story and his label, Def Jam, didn't immediately respond to an email requesting an interview or a statement.
"Yeezus" is an artsy, dark adventure that isn't easy to digest. The 10 tracks are made up of moody, electronic and erratic beats, with the lyrics focusing on race, religion and other topics. West's weird-boy, punk rock sound isn't a surprise: He began on a darker route in 2008 with "808s & Heartbreak" and went deeper two years later with "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." But the new album has put the multiplatinum, Grammy-winning rapper on a new wavelength outside the mainstream margin.
The album, though critically acclaimed, doesn't have any big singles, anthemic hooks or charismatic lyrics like West's past efforts. In fact, West officially released a single, "Black Skinhead," two weeks after the album dropped. The music video came days later.
FILE - In this May 7, 2012 file photo, Kanye West arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit, celebrating Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, in New York. West’s new album “Yeezus” isn’t as divine as he thought it would be. Though critically-revered, it doesn’t have any big singles, anthemic hooks or charismatic lyrics like his past efforts. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)
West performed on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" a month before he released "Yeezus," debuting the songs "New Slaves" and "Black Skinhead" while lights flickered behind him and visuals of dogs barking and the words "not for sale" appeared behind him. He also was the headline act at the Governors Ball festival in New York and gave extensive interviews to The New York Times and W magazine. And West had his first child, daughter North West, with Kim Kardashian days before the album was released.