It's official, Meek Mill has crossed into true rap superstardom. His latest album, Dreams Worth More Than Money, opened at number one on the Billboard Top 200 chart, selling 246,000 equivalent album units* in its first week and scoring the Philly native his first No. 1 album (via Billboard/Nielson). That number is clearly impressive on its own, especially considering the shifting music landscape that exists today, but is even more impressive considering this is the fourth-highest first week sales figure of the year so far - across all genres. That's right, only Drake's If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (535,000), Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly (363,000) and Mumford & Sons’ Wilder Mind (249,000) sold more.
Let me say that again in case it wasn't clear. Meek Mill...has now dropped...the fourth most popular album...in all of music...this year.
So yes, that means Meek is killing just about everyone in the hip-hop game right now. Looking at first-week sales for the most recent albums from every notable rapper over the last few years, the list goes Eminem (by a Rap God-sized margin), Drake, Jay Z (with a Samsung asterisk), J. Cole, Kendrick, Kanye....and then Meek. No one else is even particularly close. He bested Big Sean by a huge margin, despite being propelled by two platinum singles (one twice over). He nearly doubled A$AP Rocky's sales and ScHoolboy's impressive total as well. His MMG cohorts? Wale was nearly tripled by Meek, and I'll spare Rick Ross from Hood Billionaire (why did that even have to happen?), but even Mastermind was but a 12-piece from Wing Stop compared to Meek's lobster ravioli. There are levels to this shit, and Meek has lapped even the Bawse himself to currently become the lone, true superstar of the Maybach Music Group.
While I have to say Meek's monster success is surprising, it shouldn't be shocking. His debut, Dreams & Nightmares, also sold well, topping 164,000 in traditional first week sales, but was also released back in 2012. While that album was propelled by a smash hit in "Amen," DWMTM failed to achieve similar success with any of its singles. Currently, "All Eyes on You" is seeing a good amount of traction, but released only days before the album; it couldn't have had much of an effect. That means Meek was still able to achieve extremely strong sales without any singles catching fire, signaling a fanbase that's not just numerous but deeply loyal.
Em, Ye and Hova have long since reached a level of celebrity that exceeds rap, and even music itself. As for the newer stars, everyone argues about the balance of mainstream power that exists between Drizzy, Cole and K-Dot, but Meek has now cemented himself as next in line. Much to the dismay of Joe Budden, DWMTM has become his invitation to sit down at the table with the Eminems and the Kanyes and the Drakes of the world, where I can only assume they dine on extinct animals and discuss Illuminati happenings. Meek Mill may not yet be at the head of that table, but he's sitting at the table while his closest competition is still waiting at the door.
* Equivalent album units takes into account not only direct album sales but also streams and accumulative streams of songs from the album. If you want the full nerd equation hit me on Twitter and we can chop it up.
[By Brendan Varan. All he wanted was a new Merceeeeeeedes. Follow him on Twitter.]