First week sales projections for Jay Rock's 90059 album are out and they aren't looking particularly impressive. HitsDailyDouble reports that Rock's first album in four years is on pace to sell approximately 15,000 copies in its first week, hardly the success story we've come to expect from the powerful TDE machine.
Unless you have some perspective. Let's have some perspective.
First, if we're simply talking about sales, major sales are still driven by the major label machine, and Jay Rock is pure TDE. Like Ab-Soul, whose These Days album similiarly sold 20K first week, and unlike Kendrick and ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock doesn't also have an Interscope deal. TDE isn't some indie label run of out someone's basement, it's still pretty plugged in, but 15K is actually solid for an indie artist and puts Jay Rock alongside other recent album releases like Vince Staple's Summertime '06 and Migos' Yung Rich Nation.
Still, even if Jay Rock has Jimmy Iovine personally delivering his songs to radio stations, I'm not convinced Jay Rock has anything close to a platinum album in him. Take a listen to "Vice City":
Everyone on TDE has their lane and style. Kendrick is the eccentric genius from the street, Ab-Soul is the alient mystic, ScHoolboy Q is the out-of-his-mind gangster, even Isaiah Rashad is the every man trying to find his way in the world that all the 20-something writers on our staff relate to. When I think of Jay Rock though, words like solid, strong and consistent come to mind. When Q or Solo walk into a room everyone notices - even if you didn't know who they were, you'd know they were someone important. When Jay Rock walks into a room he looks like a guy in a room.
Jay Rock just doesn't have that next-level charisma, that mythical "star" quality, that addiction to the spotlight, an artist needs to truly stand out in an ever more crowded music industry, and that's a good thing. The last thing I want is to see Jay Rock in a shiny suit, rapping next to Chris Brown in an attempt to chase the radio. He may never have a platinum album, but as long as he stays true to himself he'll always have a career, and I want Jay Rock to have a career. Album sales or no album sales, hip-hop's better off when he's making music. Men lie, women lie, even numbers don't tell the whole truth. But 90059? That album's the truth.
[By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]
*P.S. - So that pre-order thing wasn't an actual thing, right?