First off, my source was wrong on the Lupe thing. He got the numbers for Fergie’s debut correct, but he was way off on Lupe’s numbers (he said 100,000).
In the end, Lupe sold about 58,000 copies of Food and Liquor, good enough for a number 12 debut.
Before people who support “real hip-hop” get into an uproar, that’s about what I predicted Lupe would get all along. Rap albums just aren’t selling, and to push 58,000 in this environment with little or no video or radio airplay is an accomplishment. That means that the dude relied on Internet alone for promotion, which usually is a death knell for major label artists.
Having that said, I don’ t think that these numbers are high enough for his record label to keep pushing the album, which is a shame. I’ve said before that Lupe (and most hip-hop artists these days) should push the Gnarls Barkley strategy for music promotion. Gnarls’ album (St. Elsewhere) debuted in the upper 40,000s, but they kept pushing 50k a week until they got platinum. (Bear in mind, that this was in the US. In the UK they were superstars from the jump). If the people at Atlantic had any sense, they would look at what their people at their own Downtown Records imprint did for Gnarls.