Nicki Minaj’s Roman Reloaded is really difficult to put into album-sales context, even by 2012 standards. So many variables complicate matters: getting record sales in the 2010s being a bit like dipping a 5” aquarium net into a swimming pool, with discounts and promotions possibly like attaching a couple more nets; Pink Friday–which had already moved a respectable 375K in its first week–gaining enough heft well after its release for its sales to plateau high enough to reach No. 1 several months after dropping; Roman Reloaded itself being such a disjointed mix of hip-hop, R&B and pop that it’s hard to say who her closest peers are. (Rihanna, maybe, but only when she’s been given ostensible Rihanna tracks; female rappers past, but only when she’s rapping; Lil Wayne, but minus several years of considerable momentum.)
All this is to say that Roman Reloaded, based on HITS Daily Double projections, will debut at No. 1, but not phenomenally: they’re projecting 200-225K in sales. For context, that’s well below Young Money labelmates Drake and Wayne and a lot closer to pop albums like Talk That Talk (197K) and Teenage Dream (192K). You could extrapolate something about demographics from that, except good luck finding any proof whatsoever. Same goes for the album’s mixed reviews and word of mouth. You could cite Roman Reloaded‘s leak, but Pink Friday leaked too. Or you can call it what it is: solid, if slightly disappointing, and it may well repeat Pink Friday and plateau in coming weeks. There’s no “Super Bass,” but there’s certainly one and possibly two viable singles from both its rap and pop halves.
(Elsewhere on the list: 100-125K for Rascal Flatts, which is as solid, modest and unremarkable as it sounds. It deserves these parentheses.)