It's a Cole Winter. The rapper surprised us when he announced his new album 2014 Forest Hills Drive in late November, and released the album shortly thereafter. J. Cole stripped the album release of all things unnecessary, from endless promo interviews where the same subjects are broached again and again, to excessive bonus records, to the expected listening sessions with industry insiders. With a fan-driven campaign and plenty of fan-support in turn, 2014 Forest Hills Drive was projected to do some big numbers, but the final result is bigger than expected. It's almost impossible to avoid album leaks these days, but Cole was pretty damn close. Even with a leak, he got his third #1 album, his biggest opening week to date, and critical accolades to boot, perhaps further strengthening the sales. Plus, he had the largest opening week for a rap album in 2014. Not too shabby for a rapper who avoided a typical major label campaign. Compare this to Nicki Minaj, who has gone above and beyond when it comes to promo; she's literally been unavoidable, but The Pinkprint is only on course to sell 155,000-165,000. That's not bad by any means, but it's definitely not as strong as her last album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (253k) or Pink Friday (375k). We'll have to see if all the effort she's been putting into various TV appearances gives her sales a boost next week.

1)      J. Cole— 2014 Forest Hills Drive: Cole made an extremely strong debut this week with his new album 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Although Cole had a relatively short (and unique) album campaign, Cole managed to have the biggest debut week yet when it comes to a hip-hop LP in 2014. The album managed to break our initial projections, and move 371,228 units opening week (sales: 353,538), earning himself his third #1 album.

2)       K. Michelle— Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart: R’n’b singer K. Michelle made a pretty strong debut this week with her new album AWBAH, also a line from Nicki Minaj’s “Buy A Heart” off The Pinkprint. K. Michelle did 87,140 units (sales: 84,117) opening week.

3)       Mary J. BligeThe London Sessions: Mary J. Blige’s new album slides down a bit this week, after debuting at #9 last week. The London Sessions falls to #25 this week, after moving 27,532 copies (sales: 26,398), bringing up her total sales to 81,036.

4)      Chris Brown—X: Breezy sees a spike this week, rising up from #54 to #32 this week. Chris Brown has been charting for 13 weeks now, and sold another 23,741 copies and streams (sales: 15,877). The total sales of X are 310,220.

5)       Eminem— Shady XV: Shady XV continues its descent this week, it’s looking like it may not be within Billboard 200’s top 50 for much longer. This week the album falls down to #37 after spending three weeks charting. The compilation project sold 21,019 more units (sales: 17,904), with total sales of 188,676.

6)       BeyonceBeyonce: The self-titled album drops a few spots this week, sitting at #45. She’s been charting for 53 weeks strong. The album’s sales and streams from the past week amount to 19,556 (sales: 11,436) with total sales of 2,147,000.

7)        PRhyme— PRhyme: DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9”’s joint album, the self-titled PRhyme, makes a Billboard 200 debut this week, proving the strength of their underground fanbase. The album opened at #59 on the Billboard 200, with sales and streams of 14,188 units opening week (sales: 13,547).

8)        E-40Sharp On All 4 Corners 1: E-40 dropped off another one of his mega-albums, the double-disc Sharp On All 4 Corners. The first disc, Corner 1, debuted at #61 this week,  after moving 13,697 units (sales: 11,770).

9)        Rick Ross—Hood Billionaire: Hood Billionaire has quickly descended the Billboard ranks, arriving at #68 this week. The album was sitting at #42 last week, after spending three weeks on the charts. Rozay did 12,543 copies this week (sales: 10,171), while his total sales reached 100,000.

On the Hot 100 this week, J. Cole makes a debut with his "Wet Dreamz" cut off 2014 Forest Hills Drive, entering at #73. We see DeJ Loaf's break-out the single gain some traction, rising up 3 spots to #45. Christmas continues to get closer, while Mariah Carey's iconic Christmas jingle "All I Want For Christmas Is You" rises up 10 spots to #40. Usher's "I Don't Mind" featuring Juicy J is up by 8 this week at #37. Beyonce's "7/11" single drops a bit to #20, while Big Sean's "IDFWU" remains stagnant at #14. Nicki Minaj's "Only" featuring Drake & Lil Wayne see a spike as it climbs up to #12