Breaking Down Kanye West’s Narrow Sales Victory Over J. Cole This Week


Well the numbers are in, and as expected, Kanye West’s Yeezus won its showdown with J. Cole’s Born Sinneror it did if the only metric in play is pure album sales. J. Cole, with his final tally of 297,000 units sold (second to Yeezus‘ 327,000) may have lost the battle, but he looks to have gained an upper hand in the war for hip-hop supremacy. To be fair, it may seem a war that West is no longer interested in, with a legacy firmly cemented and an attitude of being above such distinctions these days; the man did just unleash a track called “I Am A God,” after all. But for Cole—expected to be blown out of the water by at least 100,000 units just last week (early projections had Kanye at 500,000 and Cole at 280,000)—to come within touching distance of Kanye’s latest effort should be seen as a triumph and, maybe, a changing of the winds. Let’s take a look at a few of the factors that may have contributed to the race that, while not a photo finish, at least came down fairly close to the wire.—Dan Rys (@danrys)

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • Ebrostradamus

    Yeezus is the superior album & sold more, how is this a win for J.Cole exactly?

    • Janet

      u mean the superior techno album?

    • Dev

      Cus nobody expected the sales battle to be THIS close, especially since Born Sinner leaked almost 2 weeks before it came out. Imagine what kinda numbers it woulda did if it didn’t

      • Ebrostradamus

        Yeezus leaked too, still #1 on Billboard and Spotify at the moment.

        • Dev

          But his leaked days before it came out while Born Sinner leaked 10 days early, which is an eternity in this day and age

    • HipHop123

      Because Kanye is more well known than J. Cole?. If J. Cole had the fame and number of fans ‘Ye has, Born Sinner would have sold more than Yeezus

      • commonsense

        stupid logic…..if Cole had more fans, he wouldn’t have made born sinner,, it would have been made 12 years ago and if you meant that they both started rapping at the same time then, born sinner would have lost to College drop out hands down!!!

        • Ebrostradamus

          Yeah, so basically don’t judge J.Cole for bein J.Cole? SMH

  • #Cole World

    Yeezus sucked ass. At least born sinner was a real hip hop album, not some techno animal sound BS

    • http://GAYPORN.COM/ ThirstyNigga3000

      Nigga If Kanye wanted to do a all Hip Hop album he would have and blew J. Cole out the water, but he didn’t because he’s on some next level futureristic shit nigga, Of Course yo simple minded mind just listens to hip hop and don’t get what the artist it trying to do fuck boy.

      • Want some water?

        Alright then, he can make that shit for all the emo ass “wayne rebirth” fans. Whats next level bout his album?? You can’t bump it in a car or at at your crib, or anything. Kanye was bout soul and rhymes not this bullshit. I’d rather bump 808s than yeezus. Don’ t get mad cuz your the only one that likes that album.

        • #Cole World

          Ya! Fuck boy!!!!

        • iamlarryjones

          Cant bump in the car? Are you sippin to fast? You need some new speakers PRONTO. Every track on the album put my 12′s to the test. Kanye was never about one genre. Through-out his whole career he has mixed genres through samples, taking it farther than most artists before him. While I can admit that some lyrics on Yeezus are lazy, they aren’t lackluster and the production is amazing. If you don’t like it, you’re not playing it loud enough.

        • tone414

          You must don’t have subs in you car because Yeezus is banging harder than anything i have played recently…i do admit its different, but in a music genre where people are scared to be different i give it 5 stars.

        • commonsense

          your last sentence was just ignorant as heck!! 327 thousand ppl purchased the album!!!!

          • numbers

            327k is his lowest selling album to date. College Dropout sold more. Nothing ignorant about it, the numbers don’t lie!!!

          • commonsense

            YOU said and i quote

            ” Don’ t get mad cuz your the only one that likes that album”

            clear a ignorant comment when actually 327 ppl bought it!!! low or high dude it’s still more then cole

            p.s i like cole just as much as i like Ye

      • Dev

        And can u tell us what he was tryna do since u understand it so well?

    • Rigby

      You do realize that Kanye could have easily made another College Dropout (everything sound soulful like Bound 2) or Dark Twisted Fantasy (a lot of dark music like Yeezus but more hip hop oriented) and sold 500,000, easily blowing Cole out right? But he didn’t. He’s an evolving artist. Not just a rapper. His music evolves with him. Yeezus is critically acclaimed because the critics listened to it with an open mind. They didn’t expect a hard rap album. They didn’t expect anything. They just listened. And that’s why they are professional critics and yall can’t listen to any genre outside of hip-hop and R&B. Open your minds.

      • Born Sinner

        So it shouldn’t be considered a rap album…

      • commonsense

        that’s what i don’t get about ppl, it’s as though they forgot who Ye is, i mean Drop out alone is better then Born sinner, Late is better then born sinner, Graduation is better then born sinner…….he’s done that, like is mentor said (jay Z) if you want the old him bump his old stuff, i’m a fan of Both Ye and Cole, but ppl talking mad reckless….what i find to be interesting is that, they say “all rappers do is talk about, money, ho’s and cars” but when they start put out something different it;s “that was so wack and so not hip-hp”???

        • Get Real

          No one is saying Kanye hasn’t made dope albums or thinking Cole is the better MC. What everyone is saying Yeezus was a disappointment due to College Drop Out, Late Registration, Graduation etc. He gave us a album with very little “hip hop” appeal. He went way too far with his “animal sounds” putting in random samples mid song, or just random distortions. Which turned people off from the album.

          • commonsense

            Disappointment to whom??? To certain individuals
            who stuffed him in a box and hope that he remains there for his whole career???
            I’m not saying that he has not change musically, but at the end of the day he’s
            going to make what he thinks is music to him, and you only classify it as being
            “very little hip-hop” because of what you think hip-hop is….hip-hop
            is many things it’s never been one particular thing, it’s rebellious, it’s
            progression, ppl are not going to get this album because of the box that we putt
            hip-hop in, and you list a few, things in your comment, they don’t sound go to
            you because your use to a certain that of beat and music, there’s a tight beat
            and some nice meaningful lyrics and boom that’s hip-hop, but when certain ppl
            start to deviate from what your use to, it’s automatically classified as being
            none-hip-hop (which there is no such thing) but it’s all opinions though, I was a fan then and I’m still a fan now (not saying that you’re not) I like him, Cole,
   and a few others, if that Kanye comes back good, if not, then I still got
            4 if not 5 classics that I can still bump to plus I got the Cole and K. dot!!

  • Chong

    Cole’s album was hip-hop; Kanye’s was rap.

    Really? ‘Ye’s was ‘rap’?

    As if!

  • Jerry Lawler

    I deleted Yeezus several minutes after downloading it… illegally.

  • kevin

    I bought both albums- Legally, and Deleted Yeezus. I’m into techno, dubstep, Saul Williams- but Yeezus is garbage. His vocals are painful, the only song I want is Blood on the Leaves for the sample. He fucked up the lyrics on that one too- its full of good concepts that start off interesting until he drops a corny line about his dick that kills it. He sold more because of his brand. J. Cole coming ANYWHERE near Kanye #’s in the first week is impressive if you realize how unknown he still is.

  • June18DayOfHipHop

    XXL makes so many spelling mistakes but whatever I think Born Sinner is overall the better album because I got bored with Yeezus I felt that Born Sinner was more of interesting album in 5 years from now I’ll probably listen to Born Sinner but I aint hating on my nigga Kanye he did his thing.

    • commonsense

      i liked both, but i don’t get why, we try to compare Cole and Ye’s album, their both two completely different albums, we should be talking about Cole and K.Dot

  • Cocaine Howie

    If I want to listen to Daft Punk, I’d listen to Daft Punk, not Yeezus. That’s the issue. Fans wanted to hear Kanye, but I forgot, fans are like hos. Once you use them to get what you want, you throw them away.

    • commonsense

      wait so he drop, 808′s, MDTF, WTT, and you somehow hoped that his
      next album would be something like Drop out, Late and Graduation… can
      you not see the pattern…..he’ll give us that Kanye when he chooses too, but
      for right now my friend, you have J. Cole, K. Dot, Common, and the list goes
      on. he’s been there done that, if you don’t like the new Ye feel free to listen to his old stuff or to the few that has his style.

      • ElvisWasAHero2Most

        Valid point… but I can empathize with Cocaine. I too miss the old, humble, relatable Yeezy.

        • commonsense

          You make sense, but dude above me made
          no sense, YE changes to me when he dropped 808′s. And that whole “fans
          like ho’s” line makes no sense at all. Just because you boxed him in your
          pretty little box doesn’t mean that he’s going to stay that, he’s pushing the envelope,
          you either like it or don’t.

          • Cocaine Howie

            No one is boxing Kanye. It’s no problem to experiment but when your attitude radiates the “idgaf about the fans, fuck the world” mentality, it’s sickening. At least be humble.

  • Ronald Jack

    How about saying this was a win for hip hop. Both Albums sold well and showcased different aspects of what rap can be.

  • Mr Marvellous

    No one outside the US cares about the generic bore which is born sinner… Yeezus will be farrrr more successful worldwide and in the long run a milestone/ influential album, which artists will cite for years to come… Born sinner will be forgotten about in a month.

  • itsme

    college dropout+late registration+graduation=born sinner witch is great hope we dont forget about it in 2mths cuz we have already heard before
    yeezus raprock different but also great but will have more traction internationally we are going to start to here this sound more jays album will be a mix of the two

  • clo

    Theirs nothing wrong with getting out of the box, or doing weird shit, its how do that weird shit that makes the difference. This album is horrible, coles is igghhhhht but mac millers is the best.


    1. born sinner > yeezus
    2. who the fuck still buys music?